A News of the World sub-editor has made an official complaint to the police that one of his phone hackers is missing. He asked the junior staff member to hack into Freddie Starr's phone last week, but when that didn't work he told the hacker to go round to his house with a glass cup and listen at his walls. The lackey hasn't been seen since.
The sub-editor tried to defend his newspaper's obsession with listening in to anyone even mildly famous, claiming "journalistic standards" mean that he can't just make things up any more. He points out how easy it is to break into someone else's phone messages, especially for people who don't bother to set up a password. "It's like stealing candy from a baby," he said, clutching a bag of jelly beans.
"The other week," he continued, "I was in a toilet cubicle next door to Michael Winner. Well, of course, I did what any self-respecting journalist would do. I switched on the camera on my phone and stuck it underneath the partition to take a picture. Who wouldn't want to see that on the front page of their daily newspaper? That's Pulitzer Prize material."
The hacker sent to Freddie Starr's house has been reported missing, and the News of the World can confirm that he hasn't checked his phone messages for at least five days. Mr Starr was not available for comment, and there is no evidence that he actually did eat the hacker. However, his neighbours say that Freddie's breath has been smelling of cheap tawdriness all week.