Is there any part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire not embroiled in controversy?
The New York Times Magazine has an explosive report detailing how reporters at News of the World -- a Murdoch property and Britain's largest tabloid -- were found to have hacked the phones of Royal family members and those of their inner circle last year.
The piece by Don Van Natta Jr., Jo Becker, and Graham Bowley is a must read and includes some startling background on the year-old scandal (emphasis added):
As Scotland Yard tracked [News of the World reporters Clive] Goodman and [Glenn] Mulcaire, the two men hacked into Prince Harry's mobile-phone messages. On April 9, 2006, Goodman produced a follow-up article in News of the World about the apparent distress of Prince Harry's girlfriend over the matter. Headlined "Chelsy Tears Strip Off Harry!" the piece quoted, verbatim, a voice mail Prince Harry had received from his brother teasing him about his predicament.
The palace was in an uproar, especially when it suspected that the two men were also listening to the voice mail of Prince William, the second in line to the throne. The eavesdropping could not have gone higher inside the royal family, since Prince Charles and the queen were hardly regular mobile-phone users. But it seemingly went everywhere else in British society. Scotland Yard collected evidence indicating that reporters at News of the World might have hacked the phone messages of hundreds of celebrities, government officials, soccer stars -- anyone whose personal secrets could be tabloid fodder. Only now, more than four years later, are most of them beginning to find out.
As of this summer, five people have filed lawsuits accusing News Group Newspapers, a division of Rupert Murdoch's publishing empire that includes News of the World, of breaking into their voice mail. Additional cases are being prepared, including one seeking a judicial review of Scotland Yard's handling of the investigation. The litigation is beginning to expose just how far the hacking went, something that Scotland Yard did not do. In fact, an examination based on police records, court documents and interviews with investigators and reporters shows that Britain's revered police agency failed to pursue leads suggesting that one of the country's most powerful newspapers was routinely listening in on its citizens.