Hacking of phones of individuals at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World was conducted on an "industrial scale", according to new revelations made today, putting more pressure on his media empire in Britain and elsewhere.
Covert surveillance was conducted not only of the murdered teenager Milly Dowler, but the targets included Prince William, Prince Harry’s girlfriend Chelsy Davy, former attorney general Lord Goldsmith, and Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe.
Over eight years, private investigator Derek Webb was paid to follow more than 90 targets, according to the BBC, which said a "dossier" indicated that the covert surveillance was conducted on an "industrial scale".
Murdoch's mass selling tabloid, News of the World, was closed down earlier this year following reports that Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked into for information to be used in sensational news stories in the tabloid.
The issue snowballed into a major controversy, rocking British politics, the press and the police, and withdrawal by Murdoch's of his bid to takeover BSkyB.
The BBC was scheduled to broadcast details of the new revelations tonight at 10.30 GMT.
Webb told the BBC that he was not ashamed of his actions and that he did nothing illegal.
He said that shortly after setting up his own private detective agency in 2003 he was contacted by the News of the World and offered work.
Webb, a former police officer trained by MI5, continued to work for the newspaper until it was shut down in July after a string of allegations emerged about the hacking of phones, including that of murdered schoolgirl Dowler.
Webb said he "was working for them extensively on many jobs throughout that time." "I never knew when I was going to be required. They phoned me up by the day or by the night...It could be anywhere in the country...I got calls from numerous journalists on the news desk," he said.
The BBC said it had seen the detailed logs of his movements and observations while on surveillance jobs.
"Basically I would write down what they were wearing at the time, what car they were in, who they met, the location they met, the times - the times were very important - and I would keep that. And then I would transfer part of it into my diary, but not the actual log itself. Just the names of the people," Webb said.
The private investigator said he never asked his contacts at the newspaper why they had selected the targets for surveillance.
He also defended his work for the newspaper pointing out that what he had done was legal.