Computer hackers targeted police watchdogby Jason Lewis, telegraph.co.uk
August 6th 2011
They are investigating claims the hackers used bogus email addresses similar to ones used by officials from Independent Police Complaints Commission to plant computer viruses which enabled them to access confidential files.
It is thought the hackers used addresses which had slight misspellings of real officials' names so that targeted recipients would open the email, believing the message was from someone they recognised. That would release the Trojan virus onto their computer without raising suspicion.
The fake emails could explain a series of leaks which revealed key unpublished details of the inquiry into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, the innocent man killed by police after being wrongly identified as a terror suspect.
The Brazilian was shot dead by police marksmen on a train at Stockwell underground station after he was mistaken for one of the men behind a failed terrorism attack in London in July 2005.
The IPCC launched two investigations into his killing. One concluded that none of the officers involved in the shooting would face charges. The second strongly criticised the police command structure and led to calls for the then Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair to resign.
But several of the key findings were revealed before the report was officially published prompting a leak inquiry.
The Sunday Telegraph has learned that one of the bogus email addresses being examined by detectives is similar to one used by the IPCC's former director of communications Racheal Collins. The bogus emails were apparently sent in the name "Rachael Collin".
Details of the fake address have been passed to detectives investigating allegations that private detectives were involved in computer hacking.
The investigation is being carried out by detectives from Scotland Yard's Specialist Crime Directorate who are looking at the activities of individuals who were paid by News International, including a firm of private detectives offering "ethical hacking" services.
It is separate from the on-going investigation into phone hacking at the now defunct News of the World which has seen a series of arrests of high profile former executives from the paper. Those detained include Andy Coulson, the paper's former editor and David Cameron's communications chief, and Rebecca Brooks, until recently chief executive of News International, publishers of the Times, The Sunday Times and the Sun.
The evidence was given to officers from Operation Tuleta last week by a former British agent within the IRA who uses the pseudonym Kevin Fulton.
Mr Fulton believes his computer was targeted by the hackers and has passed detectives evidence he gathered using a special tracking programme designed to reveal who was reading emails sent from his computer.
In 2006 he sent a series of complaints to newspapers about stories about his activities which he claimed were inaccurate. But using the tracking software he noticed that, as well as being opened by employees of the newspapers, the messages were apparently also being read by someone at the IPCC.
At the time he accused the newspapers of dirty tricks but he now believes he was wrong and that the software was actually tracking some of his emails being diverted by the hackers using a bogus IPCC email address.
The tracking software, known as ReadNotify, said one message was opened by "rachael.collin" and reported: "This information indicates that our tracking servers recognized the email address(es) associated with the computer used to open your email.
"Note this is an apparent address only and may not necessarily match the email address of the recipient to whom you originally sent your message..."
A spokesman for the IPCC said they had no knowledge of the hacking claims. The spokesman added: "If anyone has any information of alleged criminal acts we would be grateful if it is provided to us."
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