Hoare in 2002
|Died||c. 17 July 2011 (aged 48)
Watford, Hertfordshire, England, UK
|Cause of death||Natural causes|
Sean Hoare (c. 1963 – c. 17 July 2011) was a British entertainment journalist. He contributed to articles on show business, from actors to reality television stars. He played a central role in contributing to exposing the News International phone hacking scandal.
Hoare was described as by The Guardian's Nick Davies as "coming from a working-class background of solid Arsenal supporters, always voted Labour, defined himself specifically as a 'clause IV' socialist who still believed in public ownership of the means of production." Hoare was a trainee reporter in the 1980s for the Watford Observer.
He was a reporter for The Sun before joining The Sunday People, under editor Neil Wallis. He moved to the News of the World in June 2001, under editor Rebekah Brooks (then Rebekah Wade) but was sacked in 2005 by then editor Andy Coulson for drink and drug problems. He said in regard to his drug taking while employed by the News of the World, "I was paid to go out and take drugs with rock stars – get drunk with them, take pills with them, take cocaine with them. It was so competitive. You are going to go beyond the call of duty. You are going to do things that no sane man would do. You're in a machine." He claims to have often taken "three grammes of cocaine a day, spending about £1,000 a week" and would drink Jack Daniel's, and then would snort a line of cocaine as part of a "rock star's breakfast". His health deteriorated to the point that the doctor examining his liver remarked that he "must be dead". A former colleague said, "if you could imagine the stereotypical image of News of the World hack, it would be he."
In 2001, Hoare was awarded a Shafta Award (celebrating "the very worst in tabloid journalism") for his scoop on David and Victoria Beckham's purchase of an island off the Essex coast; the story, which turned out to be fiction, also won him the 20th anniversary "Shafta of Shaftas" in 2006. He won another Shafta in 2002, two in 2003, and a lifetime achievement Shafta in 2004.
In September 2010 Scotland Yard reopened its 2006 phone-hacking case against News of the World and Andy Coulson, following a New York Times Magazine piece published that month in which Hoare told reporters Don Van Natta, Jo Becker and Graham Bowley that Coulson had "actively encouraged" him to hack phones. Hoare had once been a close friend of Coulson. Following his statements for The New York Times Hoare was interviewed by Scotland Yard officers "under criminal caution," meaning that his statements could be used against him in possible future prosecution. Hoare had said of the phone hacking at the News of the World: "It was always done in the language of, 'Why don't you practise some of your dark arts on this', which was a metaphor for saying, 'Go and hack into a phone'. Such was the culture of intimidation and bullying that you would do it because you had to produce results. And, you know, to stand up in front of a Commons committee and say, 'I was unaware of this under my watch' was wrong."
Following his original statements for The New York Times and testimony before the police, Hoare re-entered the news in July 2011 when he and an anonymous colleague told reporters for the Times that British police had assisted reporters working for News of the World with cell-phone tracking, a power ordinarily used "for high-profile criminal cases and terrorism investigations," in exchange for bribes. Times reporter Don Van Natta wrote that he and Jo Becker had dinner with Hoare the night of the New York Times article's publication, describing him as "ailing but defiant and funny. And no regrets. All-courage." Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson and his deputy commissioner John Yates resigned within a week of Hoare's statements.
Hoare met with reporters from The Guardian, to confirm the details of the last New York Times reports. He explained the appearance of severe injuries to the Guardian reporters, saying he had been injured the previous weekend while taking down a marquee erected for a children's party. He said he broke his nose and badly injured his foot when a relative accidentally struck him with a pole from the marquee. Hoare failed to return phone calls to his home in the week after his dinner with New York Times reporters. He was found dead at his home in Langley Road, Watford, Hertfordshire, at around 11 am on 18 July 2011. A friend and neighbour described him as "physically going downhill" in recent weeks and paranoid that "someone from the Government [was] coming to get him." On the same day and within hours of his body being found, Hertfordshire Police stated that his death was "unexplained" but not suspicious, and that it could take weeks to establish a cause of death. On 21 July, Hoare's widow issued a statement in which she said that his death had come as a "tremendous shock". According to an inquest into his death, alcoholism resulting from media interest in the phone hacking scandal caused irreversible damage to Hoare's liver. The inquest ruled that he died from natural causes.
In popular culture
In The Comic Strip Presents... TV special, "Red Top" (2016), the character of Johnny Bristol (played by Johnny Vegas) is based on Hoare. Bristol is an alcoholic, shambolic, and sleazy Sun reporter who, after being fired by Andy Coulson (Russell Tovey), tips off The Guardian about phone tapping at News International.
- "Police say 'no-one else involved' in death of phone-hacking whistleblower who 'feared someone was out to get him'". The Daily Mail. 20 July 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
- Holmes, Su; Jermyn, Deborah (2004). Understanding reality television. Routledge. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-415-31795-5. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
- Davies, Nick (18 July 2011). "Sean Hoare knew how destructive the News of the World could be". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
- Pickard, Michael (7 September 2010). "Former WO reporter Sean Hoare claims ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson told him to hack phones". Watford Observer. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
- The Guardian, 5 June 2001, NoW's Taylor promoted to Mr Fixit
- Hill, Amelia; Robinson, James; Davies, Caroline (18 July 2011). "News of the World phone-hacking whistleblower found dead". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
- Singh, Anita (19 July 2011). " "Phone hacking: Profile of Sean Hoare, the News of the World journalist and whistleblower". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
- The Guardian, 26 April 2006, Monkey goes to the Shaftas
- Sean Hoare, The Sunday People, 21 January 2001, "Spice Island: Beckhams to buy £6m island off the coast of Essex"
- "Your chance to get well and truly Shafted". The Guardian. 10 April 2002. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
- The Guardian, 1 May 2002, The Shaftas: full list of awards
- The Guardian, 30 April 2003, Fleet Street's finest honoured
- The Guardian, 28 April 2004, Shaftas honour best of the worst
- Cowell, Alan, "British Police Arrest 3 Over Taps on Phones at Royal Residence," The New York Times, 9 August 2006 .
- Van Natta, Don Jr., Becker, Jo and Graham Bowley, "Tabloid Hack Attack on Royals, and Beyond," The New York Times Magazine, 1 September 2010 .
- Burns, John F. "Scotland Yard Move Stirs Questions on Phone-Hacking Case," The New York Times, 12 November 2010 .
- Burns, John F. "Opponents Seize on Cameron's Ties to Suspects," The New York Times, 18 July 2011 .
- Burns, John F. and Jo Becker, "Murdoch Tabloids' Targets Included Downing Street and the Crown," The New York Times, 11 July 2011, .
- Lewis, Paul, "Sean Hoare postmortem results confirm death not suspicious," The Guardian, 19 July 2011, .
- The Daily Beast, "U.K. Whistleblower Found Dead," MSNBC, 18 July 2011, .
- "Britain's Top Cop resigns Amid Hacking Claims," Sky News 20 July 2011, 
- Jacob, Jijo, "Ex-staff Accuse James Murdoch of Misleading UK Parliament on Phone Hacking," International Business Times, 22 July 2011, .
- Greenhill, Sam, Kelly, Tom and James Chapman, "Police say 'no-one else involved' in death of phone-hacking whistleblower who 'feared someone was out to get him,'" Daily Mail, 20 July 2011, .
- Hickman, Martin; Milmo, Cahal (19 July 2011). "Hacking whistleblower Sean Hoare found dead at his home". The Independent. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
- "Sean Hoare Former News of the World Journalist is Found Dead".
- Blake, Matt (20 July 2011). "Toxicology tests after death of whistleblower will take weeks". The Independent. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
- "Phone Hacking: Widow of whistleblower Sean Hoare says death 'tremendous shock'". The Daily Telegraph. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2011.
- "Ex-NoW reporter Sean Hoare 'died of natural causes'". BBC News. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- Shennan, Paddy (22 January 2016). "Red Top was more Carry On than Comic Strip". Liverpool Echo (Liverpool). Retrieved 28 January 2016.
- Gilbert, Gerard (5 January 2016). "The Comic Strip's 'Redtop' gives a satirical kicking to Brooks, Blair and Murdoch". The Independent (London). Retrieved 28 January 2016.
- Bennett, Steve (20 January 2016). "Comic Strip Presents... Red Top". Chortle. Retrieved 28 January 2016.