Tuesday, 30 September 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Murdoch to Close Tabloid as Fury Rises Over Hacking

Thursday, 07 July 2011 08:57 By Sarah Lyall and Alan Cowell, Truthout | Report
Murdoch to Close Tabloid as Fury Rises Over Hacking

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, News Corporation, USA, captured during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 30, 2009. (Photo: Monika Flueckiger / World Economic Forum)

London -  The tabloid at the center of the British phone hacking is to be closed after a final, ad-free Sunday edition this weekend, according to a top official at News Corp., James Murdoch, in a sudden statement that underscored the devastating effect of allegations that targets included not only a 13-year-old murder victim but also relatives of fallen soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The statement was so sudden that the paper, News of the World, was still advertising a subscription deal on its Web site.

The new reports of stunning intrusions came a day after Britain’s Parliament collectively turned on Rupert Murdoch, the head of the News Corporation, which owns The News of the World, and the tabloid culture he represents, using a debate about the widening phone hacking scandal to denounce reporting tactics by newspapers once seen as too politically influential to challenge.

The scandal is taking a toll on News Corp., with stock prices falling and new questions about Mr. Murdoch’s proposed $12 billion takeover of the pay-television company British Sky Broadcasting. Many legislators criticized the deal on Wednesday, and Britain’s media regulatory agency, Ofcom, said it was “closely monitoring the situation.”

A decision had been expected by July 19, after the end of the public comment period on Friday and before Parliament breaks. But Britain’s Culture Ministry has been inundated with comments on the deal, according to news reports, and the review may not be finished until after Parliament breaks July 19, potentially pushing back any decision until September.

Prime Minister David Cameron, whose Conservative Party benefits from Mr. Murdoch’s support, has not yet called for an immediate investigation into behavior by The News of the World and other tabloids. Such an inquiry would have to wait, he said, until the police had concluded their own criminal investigation.

Unease about the phone hacking tactics of some reporters had been growing for months, but the public mood turned to shock and revulsion this week after The Guardian reported that the targets of the voice mail interception — originally presumed to be restricted to the famous — included the phone of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old schoolgirl abducted and murdered in 2002. Then, new reports said the families of people killed in the July 7, 2005, bombings in the London transit system had also been listened to without their knowledge or permission.

The current head of News Corp. in Britain, Rebekah Brooks, had come under enormous scrutiny, since she was the editor of News of the World during the Dowler case. On Wednesday, a Labour member of Parliament made another startling assertion: that while Ms. Brooks was the News of the World editor, she was confronted with evidence that the paper was using unlawful means to interrupt a murder investigation whose two main suspects had ties to the paper.

The member, Tom Watson, said that senior Scotland Yard officials met with Ms. Brooks in 2002 to alert her of evidence that members of her staff were “guilty of interference and party to using unlawful means to attempt to discredit a police officer and his wife,” so that the officer would be unable to complete a murder investigation. Mr. Watson said the police officials named a senior News of the World executive, Alex Muranchak.

On Thursday, The Guardian reported that Mr. Muranchak had apparently agreed to allow the two murder suspects in the case  to use photographers and vans leased to the paper to spy on Detective Chief Superintendent David Cook, the lead detective.

The two men, private investigators named Jonathan Rees and Sid Fillery, were suspected of murdering their former partner, Daniel Morgan, who had been killed 15 years earlier. Their targeting of Mr. Cook included following him, his wife, and their children, trying to access his and his wife’s voice mail and obtaining personal details about him from police databases.

Those details were found in the notes of Glenn Mulcaire, an investigator working for The News of World whose notebooks were seized by the police and have formed the basis for much of the current criminal investigation into phone hacking.

The Guardian reported that Scotland Yard took no action against The News of the World in the case, because its head of media relations, Dick Fedorcio, had a good relationship with Ms. Brooks and wanted “to avoid unnecessary friction with The News of the World.”

Reporters and editors at The News of the World said they learned of the closure abruptly via an e-mail from James Murdoch and an announcement in the newsroom from Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International.

They said they felt they had been made scapegoats for events that had happened before they worked at the paper, and that they had been sacrificed to save the job of Mr. Brooks, a favorite of Mr. Murdoch.

"The staff at the News of the World have lost their jobs to save one person and her 2.5 million pound job," said one reporter at the paper, speaking of Ms. Brooks. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to harm future job prospects.

"If she had gone at the start of the week, we’d all still be employed," the reporter said. "I hope she’s worth it for Rupert."

Unease about the phone hacking tactics of some reporters had been growing for months, but the public mood turned to shock and revulsion this week after The Guardian reported that the targets of the voice mail interception — originally presumed to be restricted to the famous — included the phone of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old schoolgirl abducted and murdered in 2002. Then, new reports said the families of people killed in the July 7, 2005, bombings in the London transit system had also been listened to without their knowledge or permission.

The current head of News Corp. in Britain, Rebekah Brooks, had come under enormous scrutiny, since she was the editor of News of the World during the Dowler case. On Wednesday, a Labour member of Parliament made another startling assertion: that while Ms. Brooks was the News of the World editor, she was confronted with evidence that the paper was using unlawful means to interrupt a murder investigation whose two main suspects had ties to the paper.

The member, Tom Watson, said that senior Scotland Yard officials met with Ms. Brooks in 2002 to alert her of evidence that members of her staff were “guilty of interference and party to using unlawful means to attempt to discredit a police officer and his wife,” so that the officer would be unable to complete a murder investigation. Mr. Watson said the police officials named a senior News of the World executive, Alex Muranchak.

On Thursday, The Guardian reported that Mr. Muranchak had apparently agreed to allow the two murder suspects in the case  to use photographers and vans leased to the paper to spy on Detective Chief Superintendent David Cook, the lead detective.

The two men, private investigators named Jonathan Rees and Sid Fillery, were suspected of murdering their former partner, Daniel Morgan, who had been killed 15 years earlier. Their targeting of Mr. Cook included following him, his wife, and their children, trying to access his and his wife’s voice mail and obtaining personal details about him from police databases.

Those details were found in the notes of Glenn Mulcaire, an investigator working for The News of World whose notebooks were seized by the police and have formed the basis for much of the current criminal investigation into phone hacking.

The Guardian reported that Scotland Yard took no action against The News of the World in the case, because its head of media relations, Dick Fedorcio, had a good relationship with Ms. Brooks and wanted “to avoid unnecessary friction with The News of the World.”

On Thursday, after The Daily Telegraph said a private detective working for The News of the World may have hacked into the phones of bereaved families after they were informed of the death of relatives serving with the British Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Royal British Legion, a veterans’ organization, said that it had dropped the newspaper as its partner in a campaign for improved service conditions. The group said that “bereaved military families expressed revulsion at the latest phone hacking revelations.”

“We can’t with any conscience campaign alongside News of the World on behalf of Armed Forces families while it stands accused of preying on these same families in the lowest depths of their misery,” the group said on its Web site. “The hacking allegations have shocked us to the core.”

In a statement made hours before the announcement that the News of the World would close, a spokesman for News International, which runs the News Corporation’s British newspaper operations, said its “record as a friend of the armed services and of our servicemen and servicewomen is impeccable.”

“If these allegations are true, we are absolutely appalled and horrified,” the spokesman said.

The Times of London, itself a News Corporation newspaper, said five journalists and the newspaper executives suspected of involvement in the scandal were expected to be arrested within days.

The furor is all the more remarkable since the News Corporation, with its ownership of four leading British newspapers, was once widely seen as such a powerful force that politicians and police officers walked in fear of it, fearing its disclosures and courting its support.

But, on Wednesday, from all sides of the House of Commons, the disgust came thick and fast as the legislators recited the most recent allegations against The News of the World: that its executives had paid police officers,  lied to Parliament, hired investigators to intercept voice mail messages left on the cellphones of murdered children and terrorism victims, and, in one instance, tampered with a murder investigation in which the suspects were linked to The News of the World. Legislators also attacked the tabloid news media in general for employing similar tactics.

“We have let one man have far too great a sway over our national life,” said Chris Bryant, a Labour member of Parliament. In addition to The News of the World, Mr. Murdoch’s media holdings include The Times and The Sunday Times of London; The Sun; and a large stake in BSkyB, as it is called, as well as several other international newspapers and television networks.

Zac Goldsmith, another Conservative legislator, said that Mr. Murdoch was guilty of “systemic abuse of almost unprecedented power” and that he had run roughshod over Parliament.

“There is nothing noble in what these newspapers have been doing,” he said. “Rupert Murdoch is clearly a very, very talented businessman — he’s possibly even a genius — but his organization has grown too powerful and has abused that power. It has systematically corrupted the police and in my view has gelded this Parliament, to our shame.”

Many legislators also focused their outrage on Ms. Brooks, who is now News International’s chief executive and a protégée of Mr. Murdoch. She is a close friend of Mr. Cameron’s — the two have country houses near each other and have often socialized — and has been a strong champion of his premiership.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, said flatly that Ms. Brooks should resign.

But Ms. Brooks said she would stay put, and on Wednesday her boss, Mr. Murdoch, took the unusual step of issuing a statement on the matter.

Calling the recent allegations involving phone hacking and paying off the police “deplorable and unacceptable,” Mr. Murdoch pledged that the company would “fully and proactively cooperate with the police in all investigations.” He added: “That is exactly what News International has been doing and will continue to do under Rebekah Brooks’s leadership.”

He said that Joel I. Klein, the former New York City schools chancellor and current head of the News Corporation’s education unit, would “provide important oversight and guidance” in the company’s response to the investigations.

In a separate development, news reports this week indicated that Andy Coulson, editor of The News of the World in the mid-2000s, appeared to have authorized illegal payments to police officers during his time at the paper. News International has confirmed that the information is contained in e-mails it has disclosed to the police.

A person with knowledge of the matter said that it appeared that other senior News of the World journalists were also involved, but that Ms. Brooks was not among them.

The disclosure is relevant because of Mr. Coulson’s close ties to the Conservative Party. After resigning from The News of the World in 2007 after an earlier phone hacking investigation, Mr. Coulson was quickly hired by Mr. Cameron as the Conservative Party’s chief spokesman. The move gave Mr. Cameron an in with Britain’s tabloids, and cemented his ties to Mr. Murdoch’s empire.

Mr. Coulson’s canny approach helped Mr. Cameron get elected last year, and he was installed as the government’s chief spokesman. But in January he resigned from that job, too, when it became clear that phone hacking had been routine when he was The News of the World’s editor. Mr. Coulson has always denied knowing about hacking; these new disclosures are the first to link him directly to any wrongdoing. In Parliament, Mr. Miliband, the Labour leader, assailed Mr. Cameron for a “catastrophic error of judgment by bringing Andy Coulson into the heart of his Downing Street machine.”

Sarah Lyall reported from London, and Brian Stelter from New York. Reporting was contributed by Alan Cowell from Paris, Eric Pfanner and Ravi Somaiya from London, and Jeremy W. Peters from New York.

This story "Murdoch to Close Tabloid Amid Fury Over Hacking" originally appeared in The New York Times.


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Murdoch to Close Tabloid as Fury Rises Over Hacking

Thursday, 07 July 2011 08:57 By Sarah Lyall and Alan Cowell, Truthout | Report
Murdoch to Close Tabloid as Fury Rises Over Hacking

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, News Corporation, USA, captured during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 30, 2009. (Photo: Monika Flueckiger / World Economic Forum)

London -  The tabloid at the center of the British phone hacking is to be closed after a final, ad-free Sunday edition this weekend, according to a top official at News Corp., James Murdoch, in a sudden statement that underscored the devastating effect of allegations that targets included not only a 13-year-old murder victim but also relatives of fallen soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The statement was so sudden that the paper, News of the World, was still advertising a subscription deal on its Web site.

The new reports of stunning intrusions came a day after Britain’s Parliament collectively turned on Rupert Murdoch, the head of the News Corporation, which owns The News of the World, and the tabloid culture he represents, using a debate about the widening phone hacking scandal to denounce reporting tactics by newspapers once seen as too politically influential to challenge.

The scandal is taking a toll on News Corp., with stock prices falling and new questions about Mr. Murdoch’s proposed $12 billion takeover of the pay-television company British Sky Broadcasting. Many legislators criticized the deal on Wednesday, and Britain’s media regulatory agency, Ofcom, said it was “closely monitoring the situation.”

A decision had been expected by July 19, after the end of the public comment period on Friday and before Parliament breaks. But Britain’s Culture Ministry has been inundated with comments on the deal, according to news reports, and the review may not be finished until after Parliament breaks July 19, potentially pushing back any decision until September.

Prime Minister David Cameron, whose Conservative Party benefits from Mr. Murdoch’s support, has not yet called for an immediate investigation into behavior by The News of the World and other tabloids. Such an inquiry would have to wait, he said, until the police had concluded their own criminal investigation.

Unease about the phone hacking tactics of some reporters had been growing for months, but the public mood turned to shock and revulsion this week after The Guardian reported that the targets of the voice mail interception — originally presumed to be restricted to the famous — included the phone of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old schoolgirl abducted and murdered in 2002. Then, new reports said the families of people killed in the July 7, 2005, bombings in the London transit system had also been listened to without their knowledge or permission.

The current head of News Corp. in Britain, Rebekah Brooks, had come under enormous scrutiny, since she was the editor of News of the World during the Dowler case. On Wednesday, a Labour member of Parliament made another startling assertion: that while Ms. Brooks was the News of the World editor, she was confronted with evidence that the paper was using unlawful means to interrupt a murder investigation whose two main suspects had ties to the paper.

The member, Tom Watson, said that senior Scotland Yard officials met with Ms. Brooks in 2002 to alert her of evidence that members of her staff were “guilty of interference and party to using unlawful means to attempt to discredit a police officer and his wife,” so that the officer would be unable to complete a murder investigation. Mr. Watson said the police officials named a senior News of the World executive, Alex Muranchak.

On Thursday, The Guardian reported that Mr. Muranchak had apparently agreed to allow the two murder suspects in the case  to use photographers and vans leased to the paper to spy on Detective Chief Superintendent David Cook, the lead detective.

The two men, private investigators named Jonathan Rees and Sid Fillery, were suspected of murdering their former partner, Daniel Morgan, who had been killed 15 years earlier. Their targeting of Mr. Cook included following him, his wife, and their children, trying to access his and his wife’s voice mail and obtaining personal details about him from police databases.

Those details were found in the notes of Glenn Mulcaire, an investigator working for The News of World whose notebooks were seized by the police and have formed the basis for much of the current criminal investigation into phone hacking.

The Guardian reported that Scotland Yard took no action against The News of the World in the case, because its head of media relations, Dick Fedorcio, had a good relationship with Ms. Brooks and wanted “to avoid unnecessary friction with The News of the World.”

Reporters and editors at The News of the World said they learned of the closure abruptly via an e-mail from James Murdoch and an announcement in the newsroom from Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International.

They said they felt they had been made scapegoats for events that had happened before they worked at the paper, and that they had been sacrificed to save the job of Mr. Brooks, a favorite of Mr. Murdoch.

"The staff at the News of the World have lost their jobs to save one person and her 2.5 million pound job," said one reporter at the paper, speaking of Ms. Brooks. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to harm future job prospects.

"If she had gone at the start of the week, we’d all still be employed," the reporter said. "I hope she’s worth it for Rupert."

Unease about the phone hacking tactics of some reporters had been growing for months, but the public mood turned to shock and revulsion this week after The Guardian reported that the targets of the voice mail interception — originally presumed to be restricted to the famous — included the phone of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old schoolgirl abducted and murdered in 2002. Then, new reports said the families of people killed in the July 7, 2005, bombings in the London transit system had also been listened to without their knowledge or permission.

The current head of News Corp. in Britain, Rebekah Brooks, had come under enormous scrutiny, since she was the editor of News of the World during the Dowler case. On Wednesday, a Labour member of Parliament made another startling assertion: that while Ms. Brooks was the News of the World editor, she was confronted with evidence that the paper was using unlawful means to interrupt a murder investigation whose two main suspects had ties to the paper.

The member, Tom Watson, said that senior Scotland Yard officials met with Ms. Brooks in 2002 to alert her of evidence that members of her staff were “guilty of interference and party to using unlawful means to attempt to discredit a police officer and his wife,” so that the officer would be unable to complete a murder investigation. Mr. Watson said the police officials named a senior News of the World executive, Alex Muranchak.

On Thursday, The Guardian reported that Mr. Muranchak had apparently agreed to allow the two murder suspects in the case  to use photographers and vans leased to the paper to spy on Detective Chief Superintendent David Cook, the lead detective.

The two men, private investigators named Jonathan Rees and Sid Fillery, were suspected of murdering their former partner, Daniel Morgan, who had been killed 15 years earlier. Their targeting of Mr. Cook included following him, his wife, and their children, trying to access his and his wife’s voice mail and obtaining personal details about him from police databases.

Those details were found in the notes of Glenn Mulcaire, an investigator working for The News of World whose notebooks were seized by the police and have formed the basis for much of the current criminal investigation into phone hacking.

The Guardian reported that Scotland Yard took no action against The News of the World in the case, because its head of media relations, Dick Fedorcio, had a good relationship with Ms. Brooks and wanted “to avoid unnecessary friction with The News of the World.”

On Thursday, after The Daily Telegraph said a private detective working for The News of the World may have hacked into the phones of bereaved families after they were informed of the death of relatives serving with the British Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Royal British Legion, a veterans’ organization, said that it had dropped the newspaper as its partner in a campaign for improved service conditions. The group said that “bereaved military families expressed revulsion at the latest phone hacking revelations.”

“We can’t with any conscience campaign alongside News of the World on behalf of Armed Forces families while it stands accused of preying on these same families in the lowest depths of their misery,” the group said on its Web site. “The hacking allegations have shocked us to the core.”

In a statement made hours before the announcement that the News of the World would close, a spokesman for News International, which runs the News Corporation’s British newspaper operations, said its “record as a friend of the armed services and of our servicemen and servicewomen is impeccable.”

“If these allegations are true, we are absolutely appalled and horrified,” the spokesman said.

The Times of London, itself a News Corporation newspaper, said five journalists and the newspaper executives suspected of involvement in the scandal were expected to be arrested within days.

The furor is all the more remarkable since the News Corporation, with its ownership of four leading British newspapers, was once widely seen as such a powerful force that politicians and police officers walked in fear of it, fearing its disclosures and courting its support.

But, on Wednesday, from all sides of the House of Commons, the disgust came thick and fast as the legislators recited the most recent allegations against The News of the World: that its executives had paid police officers,  lied to Parliament, hired investigators to intercept voice mail messages left on the cellphones of murdered children and terrorism victims, and, in one instance, tampered with a murder investigation in which the suspects were linked to The News of the World. Legislators also attacked the tabloid news media in general for employing similar tactics.

“We have let one man have far too great a sway over our national life,” said Chris Bryant, a Labour member of Parliament. In addition to The News of the World, Mr. Murdoch’s media holdings include The Times and The Sunday Times of London; The Sun; and a large stake in BSkyB, as it is called, as well as several other international newspapers and television networks.

Zac Goldsmith, another Conservative legislator, said that Mr. Murdoch was guilty of “systemic abuse of almost unprecedented power” and that he had run roughshod over Parliament.

“There is nothing noble in what these newspapers have been doing,” he said. “Rupert Murdoch is clearly a very, very talented businessman — he’s possibly even a genius — but his organization has grown too powerful and has abused that power. It has systematically corrupted the police and in my view has gelded this Parliament, to our shame.”

Many legislators also focused their outrage on Ms. Brooks, who is now News International’s chief executive and a protégée of Mr. Murdoch. She is a close friend of Mr. Cameron’s — the two have country houses near each other and have often socialized — and has been a strong champion of his premiership.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, said flatly that Ms. Brooks should resign.

But Ms. Brooks said she would stay put, and on Wednesday her boss, Mr. Murdoch, took the unusual step of issuing a statement on the matter.

Calling the recent allegations involving phone hacking and paying off the police “deplorable and unacceptable,” Mr. Murdoch pledged that the company would “fully and proactively cooperate with the police in all investigations.” He added: “That is exactly what News International has been doing and will continue to do under Rebekah Brooks’s leadership.”

He said that Joel I. Klein, the former New York City schools chancellor and current head of the News Corporation’s education unit, would “provide important oversight and guidance” in the company’s response to the investigations.

In a separate development, news reports this week indicated that Andy Coulson, editor of The News of the World in the mid-2000s, appeared to have authorized illegal payments to police officers during his time at the paper. News International has confirmed that the information is contained in e-mails it has disclosed to the police.

A person with knowledge of the matter said that it appeared that other senior News of the World journalists were also involved, but that Ms. Brooks was not among them.

The disclosure is relevant because of Mr. Coulson’s close ties to the Conservative Party. After resigning from The News of the World in 2007 after an earlier phone hacking investigation, Mr. Coulson was quickly hired by Mr. Cameron as the Conservative Party’s chief spokesman. The move gave Mr. Cameron an in with Britain’s tabloids, and cemented his ties to Mr. Murdoch’s empire.

Mr. Coulson’s canny approach helped Mr. Cameron get elected last year, and he was installed as the government’s chief spokesman. But in January he resigned from that job, too, when it became clear that phone hacking had been routine when he was The News of the World’s editor. Mr. Coulson has always denied knowing about hacking; these new disclosures are the first to link him directly to any wrongdoing. In Parliament, Mr. Miliband, the Labour leader, assailed Mr. Cameron for a “catastrophic error of judgment by bringing Andy Coulson into the heart of his Downing Street machine.”

Sarah Lyall reported from London, and Brian Stelter from New York. Reporting was contributed by Alan Cowell from Paris, Eric Pfanner and Ravi Somaiya from London, and Jeremy W. Peters from New York.

This story "Murdoch to Close Tabloid Amid Fury Over Hacking" originally appeared in The New York Times.


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