back to article HCL discloses 'email deletion' requests from News International

News International asked a leading Indian IT management outfit about the deletion of emails on nine separate occasions between April 2010 and July 2011. HCL Technologies disclosed the information in a letter from its solicitors to MP Keith Vaz, who is chair of the Home Affairs Committee, yesterday. The company stressed that …


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  1. Mme.Mynkoff

    Insert MS Exchange joke here...

    "HCL points to thousands of emails being deleted during that period, including the removal of more than 200,000 "delivery failure messages" that the company said were trashed before it could "initiate any action"."

    Standard operating procedure for Exchange users.

    So basically, there's no story here, but the Grauniad and the BBC are desperate to keep it alive.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      tired of this now..

      ..we know, nothing to see, stop looking, NI are great, hacking milly dowler's phone was fine, paying backhanders to the police is cool, the news of the world would've closed anyway and deleting hundreds of thousands of emails while under investigation is just business as usual.

      If only the pesky gruaniad (ha, funny) and bbc would leave poor little rupert alone, it's not like he's Keyser Soze.....

    2. Marky W
      Black Helicopters

      Mme.Mynkoff & sabroni

      One of you needed to use the black helicopter icon. As to who, I'll leave you to argue that between yourselves.

      The loser gets to wear the tinfoil hat only at weekends.

  2. Ru

    "nothing which appeared abnormal, untoward or inconsistent"

    Absolutely. It is entertaining that routine MS Exchange administration is indistinguishable from malicious activity, though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's not just Exchange or NotW.

      I work at a government agency and such requests are routine even on our Unix system.

  3. Chris Miller

    No smoking gun

    Doubtless conspiracy theorists will run wild, but anyone responsible for large-scale email provision could probably point to a similar set of requests over any given 15-month period.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I've was on the design team for email archiving at a global top five bank... While you do get legitimate reasons to delete emails, you still need to keep them in the archive post deletion. We used centera storage which was setup to prevent tampering with the data, after all, there is no point running an email archiving system if it isn't tamper proof.

      Added to this, I find the system going down a bit suspicious, because they should have been caching all of the transaction logs and migrating them to the archive as and when possible - the archive log servers should have been sized to cope with any downtime of the target infrastructure. At said bank we sized ours for about a week, which we figured was enough time to totally rebuild the whole back-end if it completely failed.

  4. Steven Jones

    Data Retention Policy

    It would be interesting to know if NI or any of its subsidiaries had a formalised data retention policy and if any actions were outside this. Given the importance of communication within a newspaper, it would be surprising if they did not have a fairly long-term archiving policy. However, many corporates will have much more aggressive deletion policies.

  5. G C M Roberts

    Given all the brouhaha

    I would think that major newspapers be forced to adopt an email archiving policy akin to that which banks are forced to.

    In anticipation of this I will be buying shares in Autonomy :)

    Also is Private Eye going to be the only place to point out the big alarm bell of Vaz being on this panel. Perhaps Jeffrey Archer can go on the next perjury review committee?

    Mine's the coat with the bulging brown envelopes in it.

  6. jolly


    Do we know they're actually using MS Exchange? They could be the last company in the UK still using Notes mail.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Yes, really!

    "...the last company in the UK still using Notes mail"

    not true...I know of at least one Local Authority off-shoot that still uses Notes mail!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I can point to one "big 4" audit firm who still use Notes


  8. fLaMePrOoF

    In other words....

    Move along... Nothing to see here...

    No loaded (or even half cocked) gun = NO STORY

  9. Bernard M. Orwell

    Aren't we glad?

    Aren't we glad now that LuLzSec took a lovely backup of the mail servers before Murdoch could delete them all?

    Now we just need them to handover that data to....oh...perhaps a certain rival newspaper? Or the Opposition party?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Those emails are hardly going to be of the quality required for evidence.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Enough already

    Lets all jump on the NI bandwagon, no news here. Nothing looks wrong with this on the face of the story. Will be great on ITN news though presented to make it look like the Sky has falling in and the world's about to end!

  11. Andy Enderby 1

    No story ?

    My arse..... The time frame of the deletions coincides with the periods that NoTW activites are being investigated. Pruning is one thing. Disappearing anything potentially incriminating is another. Don't forget that the NoTW was no stranger to the libel courts in its time, and that those self same emails would be expected to be of as much interest to the defence team in such cases as anyone else, you'd expect them to be hanging on to mail on the off chance that pending cases could make use of it.

    No story indeed - We have allegations of : bribing the police on an industrial scale, possible bribery and corruption of the political classes, impropriety in hiring policy, allegations that the wider company was raided for funds to be used in assorted projects in ways that are stirring up all manner of interest at places like the SEC, hacking of email, illegal access to voice mail again on an industrial scale, a possible involvement in a murder, at least one person driven to suicide, breaches of parliamentary privilege, possible breaches of rules regarding security breaches, in their use of leverage in developing stories a possible case for blackmail, libel,perjury, confessions of some of the above by Brookes and Coulson in Parliamentary committee in 2003 and much, much, more..... the list goes ever on......

    Dear right wing trolls..... there are all sorts of stories here and if you don't understand them, maybe, just maybe you should read a paper or watch tv news not from Murdochs tainted stable, or simply step out of Tory HQ or whichever News Corp office you're sat in.

    No story indeed.

    1. Tom 13

      So then it's "innocent until proven guilty, unless

      you don't agree with my politics" huh?

      Um... No.

      If it isn't covered by a discovery order, it's fair game for standard email practices. And like it or not, those read like standard email requests to me, at least as far as the vendor handling the support issues is concerned. Especially the bit about deleting umpty-squat thousand "message delivery failed" error messages.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "The firm deleted 21,000 messages stuck in one outbox on direct instructions from NI to "restore email functionality for that mailbox.""

    21,000 unsent messages? Well nobody could manually send that many emails without noticing they were not going anywhere. So that sounds like spam to me. Why so desperate to delete 21,000 spam messages when it would have been easier to delete the mailbox and then recreate it? So that would suggest that (1) there was something in that mailbox they wanted to keep and (2) the email archiving system doesn't work.

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      They did mention...

      They did mention delivery failure notifications.

      It's a while since I've seen it (2000, maybe?), but a badly configured automatic inbox can send autoresponses to autoresponses, so if their inbox "" or whatever was on the blink, they could have ended up in a massive knot....

    2. Tom 7

      Nobody could send than many messages??

      Give a manager a word processor and he'll write that many 40 page documents a day - anything shorter and people might read them and find him out...

      As for not noticing they haven’t gone you should know by now that the most dynamic people are also the most clueless...

  13. Gord

    keeping emails around

    private business is under no obligation to archive anything unless they choose to. banks are accountable to their stock holders so company business is often shows up in emails. feels like vulture is picking thru a rotting carcass looking for that last bit to bring back to the nest.

  14. kain preacher


    "private business is under no obligation to archive anything unless they choose to. "

    Maybe in the UK but that's not true in the US. Any publicly trade company must comply with SOX. Part of complying with SOX is you must keep records of important communications. So how to you keep e-mails with out archiving them ?

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