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.”
The decision is perverse in that the actions leading to this criminal charge were carried out with the full knowledge and support of [redacted].
Payment for Glen Mulcaire’s services was arranged by [redacted].
British Parliament most likely will recall James Murdoch to further testify about the phone hacking scandal that’s roiled News Corp/News International.
A primary reason for doing so is this 2007 letter from Clive Goodman, the former royal correspondent for News of the World, to News International questioning his termination.
Goodman was arrested in 2006 and, along with the private investigator Glen Mulcaire, was later convicted for intercepting mobile phone messages.
At the time News International said Goodman was a lone rogue, and that phone hacking was not a common practice.
The letter is available via the Guardian which writes in a note alongside the redaction:
Goodman identifies staff at the News of the World who he says knew about and encouraged phone-hacking. Their names have been redacted because Operation Weeting, Scotland Yard’s investigation into the practice, is ongoing.
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.
There are plenty of examples of reporters going to extreme lengths to satisfy exacting news desks without quite veering into obvious criminality. There was the tabloid freelancer who hid in a church organ for several days, defecating in a plastic bag, to get pictures of Madonna’s baby’s christening; there was the time Rebekah Brooks, then a lowly reporter, disguised herself as a cleaner to infiltrate the newsroom of a sister publication and nab a copy of their scoop.
But the great tapestry of tabloid infamy has always been viewed as an entertaining appendage to public life, mischievous rather than malicious. The UK press looks across the Atlantic and—with, to my British sensibility, some justification—views a moribund print culture that spends more time pontificating about morals than getting stories and making them interesting to readers. As the former Times editor and Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins once put it, “I was trained as a reptile lurking in the gutter whose sole job was ‘to get the bloody story.’” Not for nothing does the trophy for the country’s most prestigious investigative journalism award, the Bevins Prize, show a determined rat nosing up a drainpipe.
In the May/June issue of the Columbia Journalism Review, Archie Bland wrote about the News of the World phone-hacking scandal and why there was relative silence in the English media about it over the past few years.
In doing so, he explores the country’s cutthroat media culture and suggests that most ignored the issue because most were most likely doing the same.
Archie Bland, Columbia Journalism Review. Anybody There? Why the UK’s phone-hacking scandal met media silence.
No, I’m not, frankly. It doesn’t do the newspaper industry any good; it doesn’t do the credibility of journalism any good.
New York Daily News publisher MORT ZUCKERMAN, when asked on CNBC if he’s reacting to competitor Rupert Murdoch shutting down the News Of The World.
From a business POV, Zuckerman added that the newspaper industry in the U.S. was “challenged” in terms of profitability, and added that the term “newspaper business” was an “oxymoron.”