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News of the World

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  • As Murdoch Tries To Buy Time Warner, Two More Charged With Phone Hacking

    Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    Rupert Murdoch

    Just as News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch was attempting to put scandal behind him and acquire a major media corporation, two more of his former editors were charged with phone hacking while working at his now-shuttered tabloid News of the World.

    According to Reuters, former deputy editor Neil Wallis and former features editor Jules Stenson have been charged with "conspiracy to intercept voicemails on mobile phones of well-known figures or people close to them." The tabloid's widespread hacking of the voicemails and phones of crime victims, celebrities, politicians, and British royalty in order to find fodder for stories became major international news after it was reported that News of the World had accessed the voicemail of Milly Dowler, a murdered teenager.

    Murdoch was forced to shutter News of the World in 2011 when the scandal broke, and his company News Corp. has admitted that they have paid out millions in legal fees relating to the scandal. In June, former editor Andy Coulson was found guilty of conspiring to intercept communications at the end of a lengthy trial, though his fellow News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Stuart Kuttner were acquitted at the time.

    Meanwhile, Murdoch's other company, 21st Century Fox (which owns Fox TV and Fox News), is trying to take over Time Warner, which would make it one of the largest media conglomerates in the world. However, his initial offer of $80 billion was rejected, and voices in media have suggested that putting the phone-hacking scandal behind him is key to his ability to expand and maintain his empire.

    Now that more charges have emerged reminding the media of his past ethical blunders, whether such a risky merger could go forward remains to be seen.

  • Murdoch Tabloid Editor Found Guilty In UK Phone Hacking Trial

    Other Murdoch Employees Acquitted

    Blog ››› ››› BEN DIMIERO

    Andy Coulson, a former editor of the now-shuttered Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid News of the World, was found guilty of conspiring to intercept communications, concluding a lengthy trial focused on criminal activity at the British paper. According to the Associated Press, fellow News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Stuart Kuttner were acquitted.

    Coulson and fellow former News of the World employees Brooks, Kuttner, and royal editor Clive Goodman were on trial for charges stemming their alleged roles in the tabloid's widespread hacking of the voicemails and phones of crime victims, celebrities, politicians, and British royalty in order to find fodder for stories. The scandal became major international news after it was reported that News of the World had accessed the voicemail of Milly Dowler, a murdered teenager.

    Brooks' personal assistant Cheryl Carter, her husband Charlie, and Mark Hanna, a former security official for News International, were "acquitted of perverting the course of justice by attempting to hide evidence from police."

    The AP reports that the jury is "still considering two further charges of paying officials for royal phone directories against Coulson and former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman." 

    While the hacking allegations gathered steam in 2011, News of the World, which had been operating for 168 years, was shut down. 

  • News Corp. Phone Hacking Scandal Widens (Again)

    Blog ››› ››› CAITLIN GINLEY

    News CorpOn the heels of its latest quarterly report showing a doubling profits, News Corp. is still reeling from the fallout from the phone hacking scandal as six former News of the World journalists were arrested on February 13 for allegedly intercepting voice mails. Two of those arrested are still employed at News Corp.

    According to a February 13 Bloomberg article:

    News Corp.'s phone-hacking scandal is widening after London police arrested six more former journalists at its now-defunct News of the World tabloid and uncovered a new conspiracy to intercept voice mail.

    Three men and three women suspected of hacking phone messages in 2005 and 2006 were arrested today and some homes are being searched, the Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement. Two of the people arrested currently work at News Corp.'s other U.K. tabloid, the Sun, Britain's best-selling daily title.


    News Corp. has settled about 200 civil phone-hacking lawsuits. It faces as many as 100 more as police continue to notify victims, lawyers said at a London court hearing last week.

    At least 55 journalists have been arrested in the last two years in connection with the phone hacking investigation.

    These arrests, the latest in a long string of arrests and charges for News Corp. employees, are a reminder that the media conglomerate is far from free of its ethical challenges. According to Bloomberg, lawyer Mark Lewis said, "It comes as no surprise that the lines of investigation are widening ... There is a lot further to go, and ultimately this is a problem that will continue to have reverberations at the top of News Corp."

    The ongoing investigation hasn't stopped CEO Rupert Murdoch from exploring new business ventures or racking up billions in profits. News Corp. reported net profits of $2.4 billion in the last three months of 2012, mostly related to gains from cable TV and new channel acquisitions, effectively doubling its profits from the same period in 2011.

    News Corp. has paid more than $340 million in costs related to the phone hacking scandal.

    Last year, News Corp. announced plans to split the company into separate publishing and entertainment divisions. On a quarterly earnings call February 6, News Corp. executives said the planned separation was on track "to be completed in approximately one year from the date of announcement."

  • Former News Corp. Executive Rebekah Brooks To Be Charged Over Phone Hacking

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    A July 24 Reuters article reported that Rebekah Brooks, a former executive in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., will be charged with "phone-hacking offenses" along with former News of the World editor Andy Coulson.

    Brooks was the former CEO of News Corp.'s British newspaper division, News International, the group in charge of News of the World when the newspaper became the center of a scandal involving phone hacking.

    From Reuters, via Huffington Post:

    Prime Minister David Cameron's ex-media chief and Rupert Murdoch's former UK newspaper boss are to be charged with phone-hacking offences in the most significant development in a scandal that has rocked Britain's establishment.

    Prosecutors said on Tuesday Andy Coulson, who was Cameron's communications chief from 2007 until January 2011, and Rebekah Brooks, who was courted by a succession of prime ministers including Cameron in her role as Murdoch's UK newspaper chief, would be charged with offences linked to the hacking.

    The alleged offences were committed when both were editor of the News of the World newspaper, the Sunday tabloid which Murdoch was forced to close last July amid public revulsion at the phone-hacking revelations.

    Six other senior former News of the World journalists and staff are also to be charged. The maximum sentence for the phone-hacking charges is two years in prison and/or a fine.


    PHONE HACKS: A Guide To The News Corp. Scandal

    Murdoch Admits Phone Hacking "Cover-Up"

    British Panel: Murdoch Unfit To Lead Media Empire

  • Murdoch Inquiry Broadens To Cellphone Theft And Payoffs To Public Officials

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

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    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.

  • James Murdoch Pleads Ignorance At UK Phone Hacking Inquiry

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    As part of the ongoing fallout from the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal, James Murdoch, who earlier this year resigned as head of Murdoch's UK newspaper empire, today appeared at a judicial inquiry about press culture in the UK.

    In keeping with his (and his father's) pattern of denying knowledge of the extent of the hacking at the News of the World tabloid, Murdoch reportedly told the inquiry that News of the World executives kept him in the dark about the scale of the hacking problem.

    Reuters reported:

    He has consistently maintained that the paper's management failed to alert him to the scale of the problem.

    "Knowing what we know now about the culture at the News of the World in 2006, and from what we know about the alleged widespread nature of these poor practices, then it must have been cavalier about risk and that is a matter of huge regret," James Murdoch told a packed courtroom.


    Asked if he read the weekly News of the World, he said "I wouldn't say I read all of it," and asked about its daily sister paper, the Sun, he said he had "tried to familiarize myself with what was in it".

    Murdoch was also pressed on a 2008 email chain that mentioned a "nightmare scenario" involving potential legal consequences of phone hacking at News of the World. When these emails first surfaced in December, Murdoch released a statement admitting to both receiving and replying to the email, but also denying having read "the full e-mail chain." According to the BBC, Murdoch repeated this defense today:

    In December, another email from 2008 was released indicating Mr Murdoch had been copied into messages referring to the "rife" practice of phone hacking at the News of the World and also citing the "For Neville" email.

    Mr Murdoch has said although he was copied into the email, he did not read it fully.

    He told the inquiry: "I didn't read the email chain. It was a Saturday, I had just come back from Hong Kong, I was with my children. I responded in minutes."

    He said he now accepts that the "For Neville" email was "a thread" that raised the suspicion of wider phone hacking at the News of the World.

    "The fact it suggested other people might have been involved in phone hacking - that part of its importance was not imparted to me that day," he said.

    News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch is scheduled to appear before inquiry on Wednesday and Thursday.

  • Ex-News Of The World Editor Defends Use Of Fake "Edward Trevor" Byline

    Blog ››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

    A former editor for Rupert Murdoch's shuttered tabloid News of the World is defending the publication's routine use of the fictional byline "Edward Trevor," a practice which is reportedly under investigation by Scotland Yard.

    Over the weekend, The Independent reported that "[d]etectives are interested in Trevor because this 'house byline' appeared on work that for various reasons the real author did not want to be associated with." Trevor's byline appears on hundreds of stories published in the infamous British newspaper, which Murdoch closed last year amidst allegations that reporters there engaged in widespread phone hacking and police bribery.

    But Stuart White, who served as News of the World's LA-based American Editor from 1994 to 2003 and is now a novelist, tells Media Matters there is nothing unique or nefarious about the use of a "house byline" like Edward Trevor, adding, "the back story to this is that both The Independent and the Guardian are obsessed with ravaging the corpse of the News of the World."

  • Murdoch's Legal Tab: Approaching $1 Billion

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Cultivating a culture of corruption can be expensive. Just ask Rupert Murdoch.

    His media behemoth News Corp. has spent nearly $900 million dollars in recent years cleaning up legal messes created by the unethical behavior of his employees. And the legal bills, including out of court settlements, show no signs of abating as trans-Atlantic investigations grind on.

    By year's end, News Corp. had already spent $200 million on legal costs trying to deal with and contain the phone-hacking scandal that continues to envelop his British newspaper empire. That sum comes in the wake of News Corp. shelling out nearly $700 million to recently settle three different anti-business lawsuits filed against a Murdoch marketing company in the United States.

    Speculation mounts that the phone-hacking scandal could prompt the Department of Justice to prosecute News Corp. for bribing foreign officials in order to gain a competitive advantage and the legal costs surrounding that type of probe could also be enormous. One expert tells Media Matters that Murdoch's company could have to spend another $100 million navigating that investigation; more if the inquiry drags on longer than one year.

    What's telling is that the massive legal bills all stem from the fact that Murdoch seems to cultivate a corporate culture where executives don't believe that the rule of law applies to them. The News Corp. culture is one where hacking computers, emails and phones, not to mention bribing politicians with favorable news coverage in exchange for votes in parliament, have been seen as a way of doing business.

    In other words, Rupert Murdoch has created a ethical cesspool and now his company has had to spend what's approaching ten figures trying to clean it up. The legal tab though, is still open.

  • Misinformer Of The Year: Rupert Murdoch And News Corp.


    "This is the most humble day of my life."

    That's how Rupert Murdoch began his July 20 testimony to Parliament about the phone hacking and bribery scandal that had already resulted in the resignations and arrests of key News Corp. officials.

    Murdoch's son, James, was equally contrite. "I would like to say as well just how sorry I am and how sorry we are, to particularly the victims of illegal voicemail interceptions and to their families," he told the committee. "It is a matter of great regret to me, my father and everyone at News Corporation. These actions do not live up to the standards that our company aspires to everywhere around the world."

    The story had begun spiraling out of Rupert Murdoch's control two weeks earlier, when the Guardian reported allegations that employees of Murdoch's London tabloid News of the World had hacked into the mobile phone voicemails of a British schoolgirl who had gone missing, and who was later found dead.

    "I cannot think what was going through the minds of the people who did this. That they could hack into anyone's phone is disgraceful," lamented Prime Minister David Cameron as the scandal quickly engulfed the U.K., and spread throughout Murdoch's global media reach. "But to hack into the phone of Milly Dowler, a young girl missing from her parents, who was later found to be murdered, is truly despicable."

    Allegations of phone hacking within Murdoch's newspapers had been simmering for years in the U.K., and News Corp. had been forced to make public apologies for the systematic invasions of privacy, often sponsored by News of the World and targeting celebrities, athletes and members of the royal family.

    And while parts of the Dowler story have since been called into question, News Corp. agreed to pay her family 2 million pounds, and Murdoch himself delivered an apology in person. Moreover, the story set off a cascade of damning revelations that have continued to this day.

    Evidence quickly tumbled out indicating the hacking been widespread, and that multiple, high-ranking executives had known about the intrusions. That meant previous explanations to Parliament, when Murdoch managers claimed the crimes had been limited, had been misleading at best. At worst, Murdoch chiefs lied to lawmakers in an effort to cover-up massive wrongdoing.

    For years, Media Matters has documented the stream of purposeful misinformation that flows from Murdoch's American properties, most notably Fox News, where the misinformation has taken an epic turn for the worse under President Obama. Yet the corporate spectacle on display this year is even more troubling. This has been Murdoch overseeing a corrupt enterprise and one whose transgressions extend well beyond tapping into phone messages.

    And for that dubious distinction, as well as for starring in a media unraveling that has attracted multiple police and government investigations on several continents, Rupert Murdoch and his international media behemoth are the recipients of this year's Misinformer of the Year award.

  • Inside The New York Post: What We Know About Murdoch's U.S. Tabloid And The Men Who Run It


    It was always a matter of time before the News International phone hacking scandal washed ashore on the American side of the Atlantic. News Corporation is legally chartered here and listed on the NASDAQ, is physically headquartered in Manhattan, and controls several influential U.S. properties across a range of media. A News Corp. scandal like the phone hacking charges that engulfed its British print subsidiary is by definition an American scandal.

    Long maintaining a pride of place amongst News Corp.'s U.S. holdings is The New York Post, which Rupert Murdoch purchased in 1976 for $30 million -- or roughly half of what the paper is estimated to bleed in annual losses.

    Rupert Murdoch has bought other New York print properties over the years, including New York magazine and the Village Voice, but the Post has always been dearest to him. Murdoch is a tabloid creature at heart -- known for his love for short and punchy articles -- and over the course of nearly 40 years, the Post is the only American publication he's ever bought twice. After selling the paper in 1988 in an act of forced compliance with now-defunct media ownership laws, the American-naturalized mogul reacquired the paper in 1993 with a crucial assist from New York's then-governor Mario Cuomo.

    It is during this most recent 18-year ownership stint that the Post has established an unrivaled reputation as the bottom-feeder of American print journalism. The paper's near-comical reputation for inaccuracy is so widespread that even Gretchen Carlson -- an anchor at Fox News, the Post's corporate cousin -- recently criticized its lack of credibility.

    This is not surprising, considering that The Post was for years Murdoch's only U.S. print property staffed with his clan's inner-circle of favored British and Australian tabloid veterans. The paper lost this distinction when Murdoch purchased The Wall Street Journal in 2007 and installed lifetime loyalist and News International chairman Les Hinton as publisher. Hinton resigned this past July in the wake of growing controversy over his leadership role at News International between 1995 and 2007, when phone hacking is known to have occurred at the papers under his control.

    Years before Murdoch installed Hinton at the Journal, he imported another Fleet Street product to New York in the form of Colin Myler. At the time of his arrival in 2001, Myler was all but unemployable in Britain. In April of that year, he had resigned after publishing an article in the Sunday Mirror that led to the collapse of an active and very expensive trial. Myler faced the possibility of criminal charges and even jail time, but in the end his paper was merely fined for contempt of court. Murdoch apparently intended to keep Myler in New York until the British public forgot about the incident, and he worked as a top editor at the Post for nearly six years. In 2007, Murdoch brought Myler back into the News International fold to edit the now defunct News of the World. The man who had left the UK under a cloud of his own scandal returned to deal with another editor's mess: Myler replaced editor Andy Coulson, who had just resigned in the wake of revelations that News of the World reporters had hacked into royal voicemails.

    Myler probably wishes he had stayed in New York. Soon after his return to London, he took over the internal investigation that concluded hacking at the tabloid was restricted to one "rogue reporter." The next year, Myler personally advised James Murdoch to authorize a large out-of-court payment to a hacking victim. The disgraced editor has most recently emerged on the other side of the Murdoch divide. He now disputes the idea that James Murdoch was not exposed to the possibility that multiple reporters were involved in hacking. Myler's reversal, in which he is joined by News of the World's former head of legal affairs, Tom Crone, may result in James Murdoch being summoned for a second time before British Members of Parliament.

    Soon after the News of the World scandal exploded this summer, questions emerged over whether similar illegal activity may have occurred at the Post. As a Fleet Street veteran, Myler provided connective tissue between News International and a News Corp. U.S. print operation. But Myler isn't the only Post figure to draw scrutiny. There is also the Post editor-in-chief to whom Myler reported in New York, the Australian Col Allan. The veteran editor is equally notorious for his taste and tolerance for sleaze, vengeance, and venom as he is for an ability to alienate and disgust his staff. Not for nothing is his Post nickname "Col Pot."

  • EXCLUSIVE: Arrested NOTW Editor Says He's A "Victim"

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    James Desborough, the former U.S. editor of News of the World who was arrested Thursday in London in connection with the widening phone hacking scandal, described himself last month as a "victim" of the situation.

    Contacted by phone on July 11, just one day after News of the World was formally shut down in the wake of the scandal, Desborough was asked by Media Matters what he thought of the newspaper closing and the hacking allegations.

    He stated: "I'm afraid I'm one of the recent people, I'm one of the victims of the cull, you know."

    He declined to speak more on the record, saying he might be more forthcoming in two weeks.

    "I'm still working for the company at the moment and I can't really say anything," Desborough told Media Matters. "I just wanted to ring you back to be polite."

    According to The New York Times:

    The reporter, James Desborough, worked for the tabloid in Britain for five years before being sent to Hollywood in 2009. It is not clear when the actions he is being accused of -- essentially illegally hacking into other people's voice-mail messages -- took place or whether they occurred while he was at the tabloid. Before he was hired there in 2005, he covered celebrity culture for The People, a Sunday tabloid owned by Trinity Mirror.

    Desborough told Media Matters that at the time he was the lone U.S. staff journalist for News of the World, though he noted that the paper did work with stringers.

  • Murdoch's Pattern of Alleged Hacking Cover-ups

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    When the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal broke big last month and Rupert Murdoch's company came under fire for previously insisting that lawbreaking at its tabloid had not been widespread problem, I noted that News Corp.'s initial internal investigation into the matter had either been completely inept, or part of a failed cover-up.

    Today, with more damaging scandal revelations from London tumbling out into plain view, it appears cover-up may have won out over ineptitude. And what's telling is that we're now beginning to see a pattern of alleged hacking cover-ups within News Corp. It's a pattern that extends from Britain to the United States, and one that law enforcement ought to be focusing in on.

    On the phone-hacking front, a letter has been made public today in which former Murdoch tabloid reporter, and phone-hacking point man, Clive Goodman alleged that his News of The World boss Andy Coulson was among the senior executives who, years ago, knew about his illegal activity.

    From the Guardian [emphasis added]:

    In the letter, which was written four years ago but published only on Tuesday, Goodman claims that phone hacking was "widely discussed" at editorial meetings at the paper until Coulson himself banned further references to it; that Coulson offered to let him keep his job if he agreed not to implicate the paper in hacking when he came to court; and that his own hacking was carried out with "the full knowledge and support" of other senior journalists, whom he named.

    This really does break the story wide open, with Goodman's claims, made in real time (2007), running completely counter to public statements News Corp. executives have made in their attempt over the years to minimize the scandal. Goodman's claims also obliterate the findings of News Corp.'s woeful, feel-good internal investigation, which announced the company did not have a widespread hacking problem, but rather had been infected by a rogue element.

    As for the troubling trans-Atlantic pattern, here's what Media Matters noted just yesterday:

    Faced with allegations that its employees had hacked into a competitor's password-protected website and stolen proprietary information, a News Corp. marketing firm responded by launching a woefully inadequate internal investigation that "failed to perform any" of the "basic steps" necessary to identify the culprits, according to forensic expert hired by the competing company.

    News. Corp.'s competitor was a New Jersey firm, and its expert concluded Murdoch's company conducted an internal hacking investigation that looked more like a cover-up than a fact-finding mission; that News Corp. investigators oversaw a "rudimentary and deficient" inquiry.

    Sound familiar?

  • Did News Corp. Cover Up U.S. Computer Hacking?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Faced with allegations that its employees had hacked into a competitor's password-protected website and stolen proprietary information, a News Corp. marketing firm responded by launching a woefully inadequate internal investigation that "failed to perform any" of the "basic steps" necessary to identify the culprits, according to forensic expert hired by the competing company.

    The inept U.S. inquiry seems to mirror the inept inquiry News Corp. launched in the wake of British phone-hacking allegations in 2007.

    Claims of computer hacking in the United States continue to haunt Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., coming as they do in the wake of the unraveling phone-hacking scandal; a scandal the chairman is desperate to keep out of the American arena. However, any suggestion Murdoch's company responded to stateside computer hacking claims with an incompetent investigation that covered up wrongdoing would likely be of interest to U.S. investigators currently reviewing News Corp.'s business practices.

    This Murdoch headache has been a decade in the making. In 1996, a New Jersey start-up company, Floorgraphics (FGI), was created to sell large advertising decals placed on the floors of grocery stores. In 1999, FGI's founders met with Paul Carlucci, CEO of News America Marketing, an in-store advertising division of News Corp. At lunch, after FGI founders rebuffed Carlucci's offer to buy the company, Murdoch's man allegedly threatened to "destroy" FGI.

    Years later, FGI executives discovered the company's' secure website had been broken into nearly a dozen times in a three-month period and confidential information had been obtained. They alleged Murdoch's marketing company was spreading lies about FGI and using its proprietary information to steal away clients.

    After failing to convince Chris Christie's team at the New Jersey U.S. Attorney's office to pursue the hacking charges, FGI filed a civil lawsuit. In preparation of the trial, FGI hired forensic examiner Luke Cats to review the internal investigation News Corp. conducted to find out who the hackers were. Cats' report concluded News Corp.'s investigation was completely lacking.

    Bloomberg News reported on Cats' report last month.

    Here's why the report now may be of added significance: In the wake of the British phone-hacking scandal, federal investigators are taking a broad look of News Corp.'s practices in the United States and trying to determine if there is a larger pattern of corporate corruption. The FGI case may indicate there is a streak of criminality within News Corp., and that breaking the law in order to obtain crucial information was not restricted to tabloid reporters hacking voice mails in Britain.