UPDATED: If only The News of the World were still around to cover this

The Rupert Murdoch phone-hacking scandal just got a whole lot weirder:

One of the first voices to blow the whistle on the phone hacking , former News of the World journalist Sean Hoare , was found dead Monday in Watford, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of London. Police said the death was being treated as unexplained but was not considered suspicious, according to Britain's Press Association.

Hoare was quoted by The New York Times saying that phone hacking , listening to the voice mail of celebrities, politicians, other journalists or even murder victims , was widely used and even encouraged at the News of the World under then-editor Andy Coulson.

Of course, if NOTW hasn't been shut down by Murdoch because of the criminal enterprise it was running, it probably would have hacked Hoare's phone...so on second thought it is good they're not around. Hoare's death may well have been accidental but the timing is bizarre, to say the least. My condolences to the family and friends of a rare man -- one who told the truth.

UPDATE: A great tribute to Hoare from the journalist who broke much of the phone hacking story, Nick Davies of the Guardian. His story also says that Hoare's health was extremely poor the last couple of years, so that is certainly the most logical explanation for his passing and is something that the initial news bulletins glossed over, as initial news bulletins so often do. The story is certainly a reminder that the ever-expanding Murdoch scandal doesn't just offer villains but also heroes, dogged investigative reporters like Davies but also whistleblowers like Hoare who took enormous personal risk.