The Daily Mail reported over the weekend that three executives who were working at financial agency Citigate have been told that they may have had their voicemails intercepted.
Former Citigate CEO Jonathan Clare, now executive chairman of Newgate Communications, has revealed to PRWeek that he was one of those told via a letter from his mobile phone provider that his phone may have been hacked.
He said that he was ‘surprised’ that anyone would try as he and others would not have left ‘sensitive information’ on a voicemail.
He added that it was unlikely that Citigate was a lone target in the world of financial PR.
‘I can’t believe myself and a couple of former colleagues at Citigate were the only people they would target. No-one knows but common sense suggests others will have been targeted too.’
The alleged incidents date back to around 2005 and 2006, when Citigate was one of the market's key players in the booming M&A market, including advising Telefonica when it took over mobile phone firm O2.
Clare, who decided against taking action over the hacking claims, said: ‘I took the view that no-one working on sensitive deals would be likely to leave sensitive information - it would be a case of "can you call me back please?".'
'I would therefore be surprised if any real intelligence was gained, but it was a period when a lot of [M&A work] was happening. Also, if something had come out about a deal it could affect your professional reputation.’
Citigate declined to comment on the specifics of the hacking claims and responded to PRWeek with a statement that read: 'We were told by our mobile provider around 18 months ago that police were investigating allegations that between 2005-2006 attempts by unauthorised parties may have been made to hack into three of our company mobile phones. We sought further details from the police but there has been no recent follow-up by them. And we do not believe this inquiry is on-going.'
'When we received the original letter we of course reviewed all our procedures, but all our staff are in any event very disciplined about the use of mobile phones.’