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'News Of The World' Whistle-Blower Found Dead

Police told Britain's Press Association news agency that a former News of the World show biz reporter, who was the first named whistle-blower in the hacking scandal that has roiled Britain, was found dead today.

The Guardian, which first reported the story, writes Sean Hoare was found dead at his Waterford home and police do not think the death is suspicious. The paper quotes a police statement:

"At 10.40am today [Monday 18 July] police were called to Langley Road, Watford, following the concerns for the welfare of a man who lives at an address on the street. Upon police and ambulance arrival at a property, the body of a man was found. The man was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after.

"The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing."

Hoare first came forward in an interview with The New York Times in 2010 and told them that both at the The Sun and at News of the Worldhacking into sources' phones was not only commonplace but "actively encouraged."

Hoare also told The New York Times that News of the World also used a technique known as "pinging," in which for $500 Scottland Yard could zero in the location of someone's cellphone.

Nick Davies, the reporter leading the charge on the hacking story for The Guardian, wrote today that Hoare was "a lovely man:"

He knew how destructive the News of the World could be, not just for the targets of its exposés, but also for the ordinary journalists who worked there, who got caught up in its remorseless drive for headlines.

Explaining why he had spoken out, he told me: "I want to right a wrong, lift the lid on it, the whole culture. I know, we all know, that the hacking and other stuff is endemic. Because there is so much intimidation. In the newsroom, you have people being fired, breaking down in tears, hitting the bottle."

Hoare himself was fired in 2005 during a time, he told the Times, when he "was struggling with drugs and alcohol."

Jon Snow, an anchor for Britain's Channel 4 News, called Hoare the "brave unsung hero of the hacking scandal." In , Snow said it was he who "reinvigorated the investigation." Snow added:

"Hoare..loved a pub, but a decent News of the World reporter who found the hacking a bridge too far... blew whistle and key to today's knowledge

Update at 3:03 p.m. ET. Hoare In Context:

If you haven't been keeping up, here's a bit of context based on this extensive timelinekept by The Telegraph:

This phone hacking scandal extends to 2005, when the Royal family alleged its phones were being tapped after the News of the World broke a story on Prince William's knee injury.

The scandal brewed for years. In 2009, The Guardian broke its first major story. In Sept. 2010, The New York Times published its own investigation that included its interview with Hoare and prompted further investigation.

On July 4, police announced that Milly Dowler's phone was hacked by News of the World. Dowler was 13 when she disappeared and was found dead in 2002. Her case, says the Telegraph, was "the most notorious of the decade." That News of the World would hack into her cellphone set off the current round of investigations that's already claimed two News Corps. executives, two high-ranking police officials and, as Mark reported earlier, is now "lapping at the door of No. 10 Downing St."

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.