NEWS – “without comment”


Graham Johnson, Editor

April 09, 2021

The Sun’s American Private Investigator denies obtaining Meghan Markle’s phone bills to count Prince Harry’s text messages – despite carrying out the illegal practice in the past

Graham Johnson Apr 9, 2021

Dan Hanks admits selling The Sun the Duchess of Sussex’s phone number – but says that he didn’t probe her call data.

‘I stopped obtaining phone records over a decade ago,’ the LA detective claims.

But The Sun published a story about Prince Harry’s texts, which hacking ‘lawyers’ say must have come illegally from her mobile bill.

However, mystery surrounds how the paper got this information.

Because the Murdoch paper claims ‘a friend’ told them about the private phone data.

And publisher News Group Newspapers denies any wrongdoing.

IN PART 1 of this special investigation, we revealed how LA-based PI Dan ‘Danno’ Hanks was commissioned by The Sun to spy on the     Markle family.

IN PART 2, we reported the response of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who condemned The Sun’s predatory practices.

IN PART 3, Byline Investigates raised questions about how The Sun got that information about text messages.

By Graham Johnson | Editor, Byline Investigates

The story continues in PART 4:  …….

See Part 4 at:

 What do Private investigators think about one of their own spying on Meghan Markle and her family?

According to the industry’s professional bodies the vast majority of PIs are hard-working, law-abiding practitioners.

Their members mostly carry-out inquiries for member of the public and private businesses, and they do so in accordance with the growing number of data protection laws.

They point out, that it was the newspapers who TASKED them with inquiries, not the other way round.

And the editors of these papers also coerced them into crossing the line into illegality by dangling vast amounts of cash in front of them, the promise of more work and the threat that if they didn’t do it, someone else would.

So, in view of the World Association of Professional Investigators, it’s not a case of illegal private investigators, but PIs who behaved illegally under explicit instructions of the papers.

Many PIs now feel betrayed.

They undertook work from the papers under confidentiality, and in good faith. But in the last decade, as part of litigation in the High Court, NGN and MGN have disclosed more than 35,000 invoices from PIs to news desks.

Many of these indicate illegal activity, but the newspaper publishers have, in most cases, denied asking for any illegal checks and denied knowledge of the illegal methods.

Many PIs see this as a betrayal and no more than a sleazy, self-serving manoeuvre by the papers to shift blame from the top editors and executives, onto the foot soldiers.

Tony Smith, The Chairman of World Association of Professional Investigators, told Byline Investigates:

Pre-Leveson, the Press were regular clients and users, f PIs both in the UK and across the globe; assignments were, in general, undertaken without question, assumed to “be in the public interest.”

Post-Leveson, the legal and ethical landscape changed in respect of media requests. Most PI’s, certainly WAPI Members began reviewing every request to ensure ethical and legal compliance.

The base-line became this: accessing personal data without specific consent was deemed illegal, unless exempted by law. That long held reliance on the “public interest” could no longer be relied upon. When instructed by the media, PI’s now need to be acutely aware that instructions need to be viewed without the “public interest” factor

At WAPI, we have the World Association of Professional Investigators’ Ethical Code – members must comply with these rules. The bottom-line is that they should conduct inquiries within all legal, moral and professional guidelines, irrespective of who the client may be, including the media.

One of the big problems is this: UK Private Investigators are still not licenced, despite every effort by Associations to be licenced. Without regulation, “blaggers and hackers” calling themselves PIs have little if any concept of the ethical and professional standards most genuine PIs adhere to. These “Info Brokers” operate illegally, accessing bank accounts, medical records, phone records and other personal data for an easy fee.

The vast majority of Professional Investigators conduct their business ethically and legally yet are/were damaged financially and reputationally by the few bad apples in the barrel.

Tony Smith –