The police investigation into phone hacking by News of the World journalists has uncovered more victims, including John Prescott, Scotland Yard said last night. The Met is perparing to write to 3000 victims alerting them that their details have been found on documenst seized from a prive investigator hired by the News of the World.

The hacking enquiry was recently reopened and has already established “reasonable evidence” that up to 20 people, mainly prominent public figures, were targeted by the paper. He has slammed the previous investigation as “inadequate.”

John Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister who had been mounting a High Court challenge over the police’s handling of the case, is believed to be among the new potential victims.

The phone hacking investigation, which began five years ago, has been heavily criticised. Last night’s developments a part of a u-turn in which Scotland Yard begins to take claims against the News of the World more seriously.

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The Met has announced that its new inquiry will review the decisions made by its two previous inquiries.

Thousands of public figures will be contacted and told that their personal details were recorded by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator and expert in phone hacking who was used by the News of the World.

Files containing the names and personal details of thousands of celebrities and public figures were kept by Mulcaire, who was jailed in 2007 for listening to the voicemails of aides to Prince William.

Some public figures, like John Prescott, who had voiced suspicions that their phones had been hacked, will be told that Scotland Yard previously misinformed them.

After his briefing by the police chief on Wednesday, Prescott told the Guardian that previous police investigations had been inadequate.

“The original Met police investigation into Mulcaire and News International was completely inadequate and failed to follow all the evidence. I now look forward to the Met police finally uncovering the truth,” Prescott said.

Murdoch’s newspaper group, which owns News Of the World, is already facing lawsuits from at least a dozen celebrities, including actress Sienna Miller.

The phone hacking scandal was originally dismissed as the work of a “rogue journalist” but new evidence seems to suggest that phone hacking was endemic at the paper.

Charlotte Harris, who is suing the News of the World and Mulcaire on behalf of several public figures, said: “It is a breathtaking about turn by the Met. The confession that individuals were misled is alarming.”