Murdoch Inquiry Broadens To Cellphone Theft And Payoffs To Public Officials

Investigator: News Corp Phone Hacking May Have Just Been “Tip Of The Iceberg”

Last week, Rupert Murdoch resigned from a number of British newspaper boards that oversee The Sun, The Times, and The Sunday Times. Today, the senior police officer overseeing the investigation told the Leveson committee that the investigation spawned by phone hacking at News of the World is now investigating information obtained from stolen cellphones and significant payoffs to public officials.

From The New York Times:

The phone hacking investigation of Rupert Murdoch's tabloid newspapers in Britain has broadened to include allegations that information was obtained from stolen cellphones, significant payoffs were made to public officials, and “medical, banking and other personal records” were illegally accessed, the senior police officer in charge of the operations told a judicial inquiry Monday.

The officer, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers of Scotland Yard, gave the most detailed assessment yet of the three investigations prompted by allegations in 2009 that The News of the World tabloid had illegally intercepted voice mail messages on an industrial scale.

The newspaper was closed last summer under the weight of public outrage. But detectives now suspect a swath of related illegal activities, Ms. Akers told the panel headed by Lord Justice Sir Brian Leveson.

The police are aware of information that Mr. Murdoch's papers obtained from two stolen cellphones, she said. One was in Manchester, in northern England, and the other in southwest London. She said that it seemed that one of thee phones had “been examined with a view to breaking its security code,” in order to gain access to its contents. The authorities are trying to establish whether the thefts were isolated incidents, or “the tip of the iceberg,” she said.

Allegations like these are why Murdoch faces a shareholder revolt over the “lax ethical culture and lack of effective board oversight” at News Corp.