Sean Hoare
News of the World whistleblower found dead Reuters

In a significant turnaround in the phone hacking saga, Sean Hoare - who first blew the whistle that the now defunct News of the World editor, Andy Coulson, encouraged phone hacking -- was found dead.

The 47-year-old former reporter's body was found early Monday at his home in Watford, north of London.

The death comes as Rupert Murdoch and son James are expected face a grilling from lawmakers Tuesday over the phone hacking scandal. Meanwhile, Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) would also look in to the matter.

Commissioner Deborah Glass said she has received a number of referrals from the Metropolitan Police Authority, including over the conduct of the Met Commissioner in carrying overall responsibility for the investigation into phone hacking.

Meanwhile, the death of Hoare is significant in that he is seen as a key figure in the recent phone hacking scandal and was expected by many to shed light on the extent and depth of the allegations.

According to the police, the death is unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious.

The ex-journalist was paranoid, worried about being watched and feared that someone would come to get him, UK's Mirror reported citing a neighbor.

The sudden and mysterious death of Hoare turned out as a grim coincidence at a time when the phone hacking scandal is escalating every day.

Hoare's death may complicate the phone hacking scandal further as he was the key witness in the case, whose high profile victims included Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson, assistant commissioner John Yates and Rebekah Brooks, a former editor of the tabloid and the CEO of News International.

The police stated that the death is not suspicious, but it would not stop conspiracy theorists flooding the web with claims that he had become the latest victim of the 'dark arts'.

Journalist Simon Ricketts tweeted the following: Sean had his problems, without doubt, but I truly believe he was a victim of that culture.

Ricketts said, I shall raise a glass or 12 tonight to him.

Paul @TheSwamps tweeted: Does anyone think Sean Hoare's death was innocent? Dr Kelly anyone? Funny how people die just after they lift the lid on people's wrong doing

Journalist Ana Lopez tweeted: I don't get how death of Sean Hoare is not being treated as suspicious by police.

Green activist Jenny Jones tweeted: I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but if I were, I'd consider the death of Sean Hoare at this precise moment as v v v suspicious.

Nicola Kate tweeted: Although police say Sean Hoare's death not suspicious, I've seen enough 24 to know there's usually s'thing else going on. Who's gone rogue??

Hoare was a British entertainment journalist. He contributed to articles on showbiz, from actors to reality television stars. He was a trainee reporter in the 1980s for the Watford Observer and later joined News of the World and The Sun.

Hoare had claimed in a New York Times article that News of the World's former editor Andy Coulson had knowledge of the phone hacking while he was at the helm of affairs at the paper.

Hoare had made damning revelations about the phone hacking culture at the newspaper last year. He had said hacking was endemic in the tabloid and that the editors knew about this practise. He had given much-discussed interviews to BBC and the New York Times.

He was well aware that the practice exists. To deny it is a lie, simply a lie, Hoare told to BBC Radio 4's PM programme

Hoare, who was once a close aide of Coulson, had been an employee of The Sun before being sacked for drink and drug problems.

In 2006, Hoare was honored with a Shafta Award, an award given for tabloid journalism, for his scoop on David and Victoria Beckham's purchase of an island off the Essex coast.