Posts tagged with ‘Rupert Murdoch’
Andy Coulson, who edited The News of the World before becoming Prime Minister David Cameron’s director of communications, and Rebekah Brooks, former editor of The Sun before becoming chief executive of News International, will be charged with bribing a Defense Ministry Official.
Via the New York Times
Under a new bribery act passed by Parliament in 2010, described by British legal experts as one of the toughest statutes of its kind anywhere, the maximum penalty for bribing a public official is 10 years in prison and an unlimited fine, but the statute also provides for much lesser penalties.
The accusations seem certain to precipitate a new debate about the practice known in Britain as “checkbook journalism,” common for many years, under which editors, reporters and investigators have paid sources clandestinely for information, or provided them with other benefits. A defense often made of the practice has been that the information obtained in this way serves the public interest, particularly when a resulting article exposes waste or dishonesty in public office…
…Altogether, more than 50 former newspaper executives, lawyers, editors, reporters and investigators have been arrested and questioned in extensive police inquiries.
With the recent indictments of top editors at News Corporation’s News of the World, analysts say the company will eventually pay out over a billion dollars in fines and lawsuits related to the phone hacking scandal.
The effect on British newspapers will be long lasting.
Via the New York Times:
What is becoming clear, media analysts say, is that the push-the-legal-limits newsroom culture that has gone untrammeled for years at the British tabloids and has even found its way into some of the country’s upmarket broadsheets, including Mr. Murdoch’s Times and Sunday Times, could be a casualty of a new culture of caution…
…Already, some who work at British newspapers say, the scandal has had a chilling effect on newsrooms, with editors, reporters and their proprietors less eager to trumpet splashy exposes that might involve, or be perceived to involve, less than ethical standards of news gathering…
One tabloid journalist, who insisted on anonymity because of concern for his job, lamented what he called the end of the “anything goes” era. “Before, it was a case of ‘Don’t tell me how you get it, just get it,’ ” he said. “Now things are looked at differently.”…
…Media critics say the legacy of the “yellow journalism” of turn-of-the-20th-century America has migrated in recent decades to Fleet Street, the traditional home in London of many of Britain’s most powerful papers. Many editors and reporters nurtured in that culture have migrated abroad, some of them to Murdoch-owned papers in America, Australia and elsewhere, taking their no-holds-barred attitudes with them.
Some critics say Mr. Murdoch’s London tabloids, The Sun and The News of the World, and rivals here that compete for the same scoop-hungry readership of millions, have set a grim and degrading standard of journalism that will not be missed.
Interestingly, some media analysts from both the left and right urge caution as England reviews its journalism culture and regulations.
They fear that overaggressive prosecutions on journalism practices will creep their way up the publishing hierarchy, affecting not just the tabloids behind the phone hacking and checkbook journalism (ie, paying sources for scoops) scandals, but also the aggressive — and legitimate — journalism practiced by more staid broadsheets.
New York Times, Phone-Hacking Charges Seen as Chill on British Journalism.
Statement from Rebekah Brooks, former News International chief executive, reacting to news that British prosecutors believe they have enough evidence to charge her along with others with criminal conspiracy in the ongoing phone hacking scandal.
The Guardian, Phone hacking: Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and six others face charges [live blog].
Background via the Guardian:
British prosecutors say they have the evidence to prove there was a criminal conspiracy at Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World newspaper involving former senior executives, including Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, to hack the phones of more than 600 people including the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
Announcing the charging of eight people over the phone-hacking scandal on Tuesday, prosecutors alleged the tabloid’s targets ranged from a victim of the 7 July 2005 terrorist attacks to celebrities and senior Labour politicians.
Coulson left the editorship of the News of the World in 2007 after a journalist and private investigator were convicted of phone hacking, and would go on to be appointed as director of communications for the Conservative party. After the 2010 election Coulson worked in Downing Street for David Cameron, who said he deserved a “second chance”, as one of the prime minister’s most senior advisers, before Coulson resigned as renewed controversy over phone hacking grew.
Prosecutors say other victims of hacking include former senior Labour cabinet ministers such as the former deputy prime minister John Prescott, two former home secretaries, David Blunkett and Charles Clarke, and the former culture secretary Tessa Jowell.
Via the New York Times:
In a damning report after months of investigation into the hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers, a British parliamentary panel concluded on Tuesday that Mr. Murdoch was “not a fit person” to run a huge international company.
The startling conclusion about the world’s most influential media tycoon went much further in criticizing Mr. Murdoch than had been expected from Parliament’s select committee on culture, media and sport, which has conducted several inquiries into press standards, the most recent starting last year.
Via the BBC:
After initially claiming that malpractice was limited to one “rogue” reporter at the News of the World, News International has now settled dozens of civil cases admitting liability for hacking between 2001 and 2006.
More than 6,000 possible victims have been identified and the police have so far made a number of arrests in connection with an investigation reopened in January 2011 - although no charges have yet been brought.
Via the Guardian:
Rupert Murdoch, the document said, “did not take steps to become fully informed about phone hacking” and “turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications”.
The committee concluded that the culture of the company’s newspapers “permeated from the top” and “speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International”.
That prompted the MPs’ report to say: “We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of major international company.”
Maybe “scheme” rings better in the English ear but it sounds a bit “off” (read: scamish) to my American one.
Anyhoo, via the New York Times:
News International announced Friday that it had set up what it called a “speedy, cost-effective alternative to litigation” that would allow phone hacking victims to apply for swift out-of-court settlements through a company Web site. The purpose of the program, called the Voicemail Interception Compensation Scheme, is to “process good claims quickly to an award of compensation, not to get bogged down in complex legal arguments and speculative requests for disclosure of documents,” the company says on the site.
People claiming to be victims and wanting compensation are asked to fill out and submit electronic forms detailing their claims.
News International has already set aside more than $30 million to pay phone hacking victims; this move is intended to contain its legal costs as it deals with an increasing number of claims.
The above is buried near the end of an article published Friday about the arrest of a journalist at the Murdoch-owned Sun for making illegal payments to police officers.
The journalist, Jamie Pyatt, won the 2006 Scoop of the Year prize at the British Press Awards for his reporting on Prince Harry dressing as a Nazi at a costume party.
Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, unsurprisingly, hasn’t done a whole lot of digging on the News Corp. hacking scandal. Or perhaps it has dug, but it’s been so far behind on the story that it hasn’t been able to advance it.
But today it has a scoop on the hacking scandal—one that implicates a non-News Corp. paper, suggests in the lede that bribing cops may not have been unusual, and raises questions about a man who will help determine the professional and, possibly, the legal fate of James Murdoch, Son of Rupert.
What’s the scoop that “suggests that the practice may not have been unusual,” as the WSJ writes in its lede? That twelve years ago, a Sunday Mirror reporter testified in a libel case that he paid a cop £50 (about $82 at current exchange rates) for a story tip.
To put that in context, which the Journal utterly fails to do, recall that Murdoch’s News of the World paid a minimum £100,000 ($163,000) in bribes to police officials, according to The Guardian. That, of course, and perhaps 4,000 cases of phone hacking—crimes, folks—plus the payment of hush-money settlements and other cover-ups involving figures at the highest levels of News Corp., the Journal’s owner.
The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account. It failed when it came to itself.
We are sorry for the serious wrongdoing that occurred.
We are deeply sorry for the hurt suffered by the individuals affected.
We regret not acting faster to sort things out.
I realise that simply apologising is not enough.
Our business was founded on the idea that a free and open press should be a positive force in society. We need to live up to this.
In the coming days, as we take further concrete steps to resolve these issues and make amends for the damage they have caused, you will hear more from us.
— Rupert Murdoch issues an apology via a British newspaper ad.
While reports are coming in from all over, here’s what we’re finding interesting this morning.
Guardian: News International Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks resigns. Brooks was News of the World editor when reporters hacked the phone of a missing girl which lead investigators astray as the reporters deleted messages so they could hear new ones coming in. The girl, it turns out, was murdered.
BBC: The FBI is opening an investigation into whether News Corp sought to hack phones of 9/11 victims.
WSJ: Rupert Murdoch says News Corp is handling the phone hacking crisis “extremely well in every possible way,” and calls reports that the company might sell off its newspaper assets “pure and total rubbish.”
Well, if you put it that way, let’s go.
Spitzer argues that New Corp is liable under the the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Established in 1977, the Act holds that US companies can be prosecuted for bribery and corrupt practices in foreign countries.
Before we continue, note that News Corp headquarters are in the United States and that the company is listed in US markets.
The rampant violations of British law alleged—payments to cops to influence ongoing investigations and the hacking of phones—are sufficient predicates for the Justice Department to investigate. Indeed, the facts as they are emerging are a case study for why the FCPA was enacted. We do not want companies whose headquarters are here—as News Corp.’s is—or that are listed on our financial exchanges—as News Corp. is—polluting the waters of international commerce with illegal behavior.
QED: What Spitzer is really saying, “Prosecute the bastards.”