Sean Hoare’s death adds twist to phone hacking scandal

LONDON (AP) — Sean Hoare said he was told to stop at nothing to deliver celebrity scoops for the Sunday papers, and he delivered some of the most sensational as he knocked back whiskey and snorted cocaine with the stars. Then he helped break open the biggest scandal of all: a phone-hacking saga that has thrown Britain’s establishment into disarray.

Hoare’s death this week added another tragic twist to the very scandal he helped bring to light, which has forced the closure of his newspaper, The News of the World, brought down senior police officials and threatened to engulf the rest of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

Hoare was the first journalist to openly say that his former friend and editor at the paper, Andy Coulson, knew about the tabloid’s widespread use of phone hacking. Coulson links the scandal to Prime Minister David Cameron, for whom he worked as communications chief.

Hertfordshire police discovered Hoare’s body at his home north of London on Monday morning. They said Tuesday a post-mortem found no evidence of outside involvement in Hoare’s death, calling it “non-suspicious.”

Police said they are awaiting the results of further toxicology tests on Hoare’s body, which could take weeks.

Journalists paid tribute to a man in his mid-40s they remembered as an excellent reporter and a hard partier who got high and drunk with the celebrities he was meant to write about, while charming his sources to reveal scoops.

Nick Davies, the Guardian journalist whose reporting has driven the phone hacking scandal, said Hoare described starting the day with a “rock star’s breakfast” — a line of cocaine and a Jack Daniel’s — and then carrying on drinking through the day while gathering gossip and filing stories.

Hoare’s career was intertwined with the careers of Coulson and Neil Wallis, two of the most senior News International reporters who have been arrested in the phone hacking scandal.

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