The first phone-hacking whistleblower, Sean Hoare, feared for his life before he was found dead yesterday, a friend has revealed.

Former News of the World reporter, Sean Hoare, 47, was found dead last night his flat in Watford, Hertfordshire. He had spent most of the last few weeks “hiding” at home with the curtains drawn.

Last night, a friend and neighbour told the Daily Mail: “He would talk about someone from the Government coming to get him. He’d say to me, if anyone comes by, don’t say I’m in.

“He was physically going downhill. He was yellow in colour and wasn’t looking well for the last month. He had a constant struggle with alcohol and talked to me about how much he had put his wife through.

“He did say something about phone hacking and I think that was his main worry. He had definite concerns with the media. He did mention he was paranoid and would mention conspiracy stuff.”

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A postmortem is being held this afternoon to determine the cause of Hoare’s death. Police believe it is “unexplained but not thought to be suspicious.”

Hoare was the first named journalist to accuse former News of the World editor and Downing Street director of communications Andy Coulson of lying about his role in the phone-hacking scandal.

He said that Coulson encouraged News of the World journalists to hack into celebrities’ telephones.

Coulson, who stepped down from his post as director of communications for the government in January, has strongly denied Hoare’s allegations.