I am not guilty of these charges. I did not authorise, nor was I aware of, phone hacking under my editorship. I am distressed and angry that the [Crown Prosecution Service] have reached this decision when they knew all the facts and were in a position to stop the case at this stage. The charge concerning Milly Dowler is particularly upsetting not only as it is untrue but also because I have spent my journalistic career campaigning for victims of crime. I will vigorously defend these allegations.
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.”
We are sorry.
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.
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.”
Bribery, illegal wiretapping, interference in a murder investigation, political blackmail, and rampant disregard for both the truth and basic decency. The behavior of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. in Britain has shocked even his closest allies and cynical British journalists. The Murdoch empire is falling apart—criminal behavior and disregard for basic ethics having permeated its highest ranks. News Corp. executives’ claims of a full and thorough investigation and that there were only a few bad apples have been exposed as feeble and false. The pseudo-investigations conducted by Scotland Yard are likewise proving to be corrupt and unreliable. Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron’s government is running for cover, but it cannot escape the untoward relationship that it had with Murdoch.
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.”