Nineteen blue-chip British companies who hired corrupt private investigators will be investigated for criminal and civil offences, a U.K. watchdog said on Friday.
Several private individuals, law firms, financial organisations and insurance companies are reported to be among those on a secret list who will be investigated to see whether they hired the rogue detectives and allowed them to unlawfully obtain personal information on up to 125 victims.
The four corrupt private eyes involved in the investigations pleaded guilty to fraud in 2012 and were given prison sentences.
Christopher Graham, who leads the Information Commissioner's Office, a data protection watchdog, will appear in front of a government committee next Tuesday to provide further details on the probe.
The inquiry comes amid a row between the committee and the U.K.'s Serious Organised Crime Agency as to whether the names of over 100 companies and individuals who hired the rogue detectives should be made public.
(Read more: Ex-Murdoch Editor Brooks Denies Hacking Charges)
The Home Affairs Committee is still debating whether to publish the names itself, after the police unit failed to meet a seven-day deadline to do so, saying it would be detrimental to ongoing investigations.