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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

FALL OF THE HOUSE OF MURDOCH II: Murdoch Paid Police for hacking details of Royals and 9/11 Victims

FINAL UPDATE: well it seems this news has caused a stir across the pond, not only with shareholders wondering why Murdoch treats Newscorp like “family candy” but a call from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington calling for a Congressional Inquiry into Newscorp:

Despite claims by NI executives that the phone hacking scandal enveloping Murdoch and his media empire was confined to the now-defunct News of the World, new evidence shows other Murdoch papers used the same tactics.  Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was repeatedly targeted for more than a decade by other Murdoch publications.

Further, a former New York City police officer claims he was offered money by News of the World journalists to retrieve the phone records of 9/11 victims and their families.

Yes, the scandal that is shaking the Murdoch Empire is expanding to the US, implicating not only the publisher of the WSJ in hacking the Royal Family with details bought from the police, but also – just as they hacked the victims and relatives of the London 7/7 bombings – there are reports that News International tried to suborn US police officers for hacking details of victims the 9/11 attacks.

According to today’s Daily Mirror:

a former New York cop made the 9/11 hacking claim. He alleged he was contacted by News of the World journalists who said they would pay him to retrieve the private phone records of the dead.

Now working as a private ­investigator, the ex-officer claimed reporters wanted the victim’s phone numbers and details of the calls they had made and received in the days leading up to the atrocity.

A source said: “This investigator is used by a lot of journalists in America and he recently told me that he was asked to hack into the 9/11 victims’ private phone data. He said that the journalists asked him to access records showing the calls that had been made to and from the mobile phones belonging to the victims and their ­relatives.

“His presumption was that they wanted the information so they could hack into the ­relevant voicemails, just like it has been shown they have done in the UK. The PI said he had to turn the job down. He knew how insensitive such research would be, and how bad it would look.

“The investigator said the ­journalists seemed particularly interested in getting the phone records belonging to the British victims of the attacks.”

This comes hard on the heels of revelations from Robert Peston at the BBC that emails, seen by senior NI executives in 2007, but only handed to the police a few weeks ago, show that the News of the World paid police domestic protection officers, looking after the Royal Family, for private phone numbers and personal details…

Regarding the emails that were found in 2007 but only passed to the police on July. At least some of them provided evidence that the NOTW was buying the contact details of the Royal family and their friends from a Royal protection officer. This suggests that the security of the head of state was being compromised. It’s a remarkable story. As soon as the newer management of the NOTW became aware of what was in the emails, they were told them that they had to give them immediately to the police. But here is evidence that the private details of the Royal family were sold, by a protection officer, to the News of the World.

So many laws, suborning a police officer, lying to Parliament, court perjury are exposed by this revelation, let alone the security risk to our nominal head of state. I don’t like Monarchy, but the idea that News International could break the law to bribe, distort and blackmail with impunity for so long staggers me.

And this has ramifications for his US operations too.

As others have pointed out, Les Hinton, who oversaw the internal 2007 News International internal  inquiry into the hacking of phones in 2007, said that the journalist and investigator involved were one-offs:

Hinton, who then ran NI which is owned by News Corp, spoke to the Commons culture committee looking into the Goodman affair on 6 March 2007. He was asked whether the News of the World had “carried out a full, rigorous internal inquiry” into phone hacking and whether he was “absolutely convinced” the practice was limited to a single reporter.

The Guardian understands that Hinton was among five NI executives who had access to the report. The then News of the World editor, Colin Myler, and legal counsel, Tom Crone, are also understood to have seen it.

Having met with the family of the murdered schoolgirl whose phone was hacked, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has now come out against the News International bid for BSkyB – an amazing turnaround – and making Murdoch’s complete acquisition of Britain’s largest broadcaster potentially dead in the water.

But Murdoch still has a largely intact media empire, both here and in the US. As it stands Les Hinton could be in defiance of various British laws, and therefore not a person of standing to be publisher of the WSJ, either under simple corporate governance rules, or the FCP act.

NB: For the best live feeds on this, try the Guardian here, the Daily Telegraph, and videos and Tweets from the BBC.

UPDATE: Just to underline that it’s not just NOTW nor just celebrities, victims or royals, Michael Crick, a well respected BBC reporter, is tweeting that the former PM, Gordon Brown, is going to make a statement this afternoon about The Sunday Times.

The news is now in thanks to the stellar reporter at the Guardian, Nick Davies: News International papers targeted Gordon Brown

Journalists from across News International repeatedly targeted the former prime minister Gordon Brown, attempting to access his voicemail and obtaining information from his bank account, his legal file as well as his family’s medical records.

There is also evidence that a private investigator used a serving police officer to trawl the police national computer for information about him.

It gets more disgusting still – Brown’s children were a victim. According to a BBC reporter

BBC told medical records of Gordon Browns son with cystic fibrosis illegally obtained + info then published by the Sun when Brooks in charge

UPDATEX2: Is US pressure now working? According to the Guardian via Reuters:

It appears that lawyers from a group of News Corporation institutional shareholders have filed a complaint at the chancery court in Delaware – the famously business-friendly state where News Corp and thousands of other companies are incorporated – saying the company’s board should have taken action against phone hacking years before.

I’ve just heard  Michael Wolff, Murdoch’s biographer, say it’s “headless chicken” time at Newscorp and:

I think Rupert M
urdoch for one of the first times in his life has absolutely no idea what he should do.

As of 19.00 BST Newscorp stock is down 7%

Is this potentially an ENRON moment for Newscorp. As Virginisland Guy says on the Moose:

Ruperts empire is a classic “Grow or Die” model. Cut off his expansion plans and shine the spotlight on the unprofitability of many of his holdings, and the whole will crumble under the leveraged debt load.

James Murdoch could be subject to DOJ and SEC inquiries because of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act


  1. virginislandsguy

    Ruperts empire is a classic “Grow or Die” model. Cut off his expansion plans and shine the spotlight on the unprofitability of many of his holdings, and the whole will crumble under the leveraged debt load.

    The NYT seems to be doing a good job on this side of the pond covering the story. Makes sense. They are direct competitors in the NY area with the Post and nationally with the WSJ, the only other true national paper. Now if only the US broadcast media will join the feeding frenzy. Pardon me if I don’t hold my breath on that one.

  2. HappyinVT

    NOTW folks that the worst news about the scandal was yet to come.  Presumably that’s why they shut it down versus firing people.  Her days seem numbered, too, no matter how long Murdoch holds on; she has to persona non Grata in most circles.

  3. spacemanspiff

    I know, I know. That same ambition is what made them rich in the first place.

    But if the man has billions of dollars/euros why can’t he just walk away and live happily ever after?

    Do people who have 1 billion dollars really live that differently than those who make 50 billion?

    These are the things that keep me up at night.

  4. spacemanspiff

    … we have to hold an emergency Moose meeting and consider banning Brit.

    We can’t have rockstars corrupting our moosey values.

  5. HappyinVT

    A powerful U.S. senator with jurisdiction over privacy and telecommunications issues late Tuesday urged regulators to look into whether News. Corp. had violated any U.S. laws when its British journalists gained unauthorized access to several individuals’ voice mails to pursue stories.

    “The reported hacking by News Corporation newspapers against a range of individuals–including children–is offensive and a serious breach of journalistic ethics,” said Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Chairman John D. Rockefeller in a press statement.

    “This raises serious questions about whether the company has broken U.S. law, and I encourage the appropriate agencies to investigate to ensure that Americans have not had their privacy violated,” he added. “I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp. may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans. If they did, the consequences will be severe.”


    Of course, that must might be a “sternly worded letter” but I can’t think the Obama DOJ has much love for Murdoch (not that they would politicize such an investigation).

  6. fogiv

    Newscorp has pulled out of the bskyb bid. Hope to find more of the evil empire crumbling upon my return to civilization friday.

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