As police in England investigate the mysterious death of a whistleblower in the British phone hacking scandal, a friend of Sean Hoare is now saying he feared for his life in the days before he died.
Hoare, 47, was found dead in his home on Monday. The cause of death is still not known. Suicide has not been ruled out, but friends say it could have been natural causes because Hoare had been in poor health recently, according to a report in the Daily Mail.
"He was physically going downhill. He was yellow in color and wasn’t looking well for the last month," said one friend, whose name was not released.
The same friend said Hoare was growing increasingly paranoid in recent weeks, saying he spent his time "hiding" in his house with the curtains drawn.
"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 added, "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."
Hoare, a former New of the World reporter, reignited the hacking scandal last year when he told The New York Times that former News of the World editor Andy Coulson knew about the practice. By then Coulson was the communications chief for Prime Minister David Cameron. Coulson resigned in January and was arrested last week. Coulson denies Hoare's accusations.
"In giving his statement to The New York Times, he was arguably the catalyst for everything that has happened since," Hoare's lawyer David Sonn said. "I last spoke to him a week ago and he seemed fine. I am shocked and saddened. It is a terrible tragedy."