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Murdoch empire's scandal spreads to new publications

LONDON — The scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch’s media empire exploded in several directions Monday, with fresh reports of phone hacking attacks against some of the nation’s most powerful figures, including royals and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Adding to the intrigue, Scotland Yard released an unusual statement accusing unidentified individuals of trying to sabotage its sprawling investigation. The police — themselves accused of accepting bribes from Murdoch’s journalists — said somebody was deliberately planting distracting information in the press.

No one, it seems, had been safe from the prying eyes of corrupt journalists.

Police officers betrayed members of the royal family to the News of The World, according to several reports. British media were reporting that Brown was one of thousands whose personal details — including his bank account and his son’s medical records — were targeted by people working for News International titles including The Sun and the Sunday Times. None of the media cited sources.

A spokeswoman for Brown said he was shocked by the alleged ‘‘criminality and the unethical means by which personal details have been obtained’’ about his family.

His wife, Sarah, tweeted that the information was very personal and it was ‘‘really hurtful if all true.’’

News International spokeswoman Daisy Dunlop said the company acknowledged the allegations and that in order to investigate further the company asks ‘‘that all information concerning these allegations is provided to us.’’

The charges added to a sense of disbelief that has spread across Great Britain.

The British press has been furiously reporting allegations that journalists at the News of the World tabloid may have hacked into phones of young murder victims, families of dead servicemen and terrorism victims. The widening scandal has prompted Murdoch’s News Corp. to close the tabloid and withdraw its promise to spin off Sky News — a move that forced Hunt to refer its bid for British Sky Broadcasting to competition authorities.