Sean Hoare, the ex-News of the World reporter who told the New York Times last year that Andy Coulson not only knew about but actively encouraged telephone-hacking, has been found dead, according to the Guardian. “The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious,” according to a police statement. “Police investigations into this incident are ongoing.”
Talk about your British understatement! On the one hand, Hoare’s known issues with substance abuse would provide easy cover for a professional hit. The only question is, why wait to kill him until the cat was not only out of the bag but all hell was breaking loose–when maximum attention would surely be paid–instead of quietly eliminating him while the story was still in suspense, assuring that he would never testify in a courtroom? On the other hand, with so many powerful people all of a sudden losing their grip, just about anything could happen. As New York magazine’s Intelligencer puts it, “An Unexplained Death Was Just About the Only Thing Conspiracy Theorists Found Lacking in the News Corp. Scandal. No Longer.”
PS It’s worth a reminder that these were serious criminal acts, knowingly committed by News Corp executives, who made concerted attempts to cover them up or otherwise paper them over–“Conspiracy” is very far from a misnomer. Whether it extends to murder or not remains to be seen (I’m guessing it doesn’t), but this story, also in the Guardian, has an undeniable smell about it.