Saturday News Review

Rupert steps in

The chairman’s reported intervention comes as a third man was arrested and bailed in connection with alleged corrupt payments made to police officers. Sky News understands the 63-year-old man, who was arrested in Surrey, is a private investigator who worked for the newspaper. Former NOTW editor Andy Coulson and former royal reporter Clive Goodman were released last night on police bail after being arrested earlier. Mr Murdoch is due to arrive in the UK on a flight some time today. Sky reporter Hannah Thomas-Peter, in New York, said the News Corp boss had been in Idaho and looked unhappy after being questioned by several reporters. “He presided over the decision to axe a favourite newspaper in order to stop the rot – a phrase used here a lot,” Thomas-Peter said. “The idea was to send a message to investors and shareholders that News Corporation is serious about protecting the Murdoch brand and the proposed takeover of BSkyB. “It is clear at the moment that it does not look like he has been able to stop the rot, so he himself is getting on a plane to fly to London to deal with it.” News International also denied reports that police are investigating suspected deletion of emails by an executive at the company. The Guardian reported that Scotland Yard is probing claims that a member of staff deleted “millions of emails” from an internal archive. Police refused to comment on the reports. – Sky News

Murdoch Snr, the 80-year-old chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, is due in the UK to confront the growing crisis at his media group. His intervention comes as a third man was held last night in connection with alleged corrupt payments made to police officers. The man was later bailed until October. A 63-year-old was arrested at an address in Surrey as former News of the World editor Andy Coulson was released on police bail after being quizzed for nine hours over allegations of corruption and the phone-hacking scandal that forced the closure of the 168-year-old newspaper. The Sunday tabloid’s former royal editor, Clive Goodman, was also questioned at a separate police station over claims that police officers were bribed. As the crisis at Mr Murdoch’s empire deepened, News International’s embattled chief executive Rebekah Brooks hinted to staff that more revelations were ahead, warning of “another very difficult moment in this company’s history”. – Daily Telegraph

Brooks hangs on for now

Sensational allegations of a criminal cover-up were made against Rupert Murdoch’s faltering media empire last night as the phone hacking scandal reached the door of Downing Street. Police are investigating claims that News International deleted millions of emails from an internal archive in an apparent attempt to obstruct a police inquiry. All this came as the Prime Minister made the extraordinary suggestion that Mr Murdoch’s son and heir apparent James had ‘questions to answer’ to police after admitting paying hush money to victims of hacking by the News of the World. In his most difficult day since becoming Conservative leader, Mr Cameron repeatedly refused to apologise for hiring as his media chief ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson, who was arrested yesterday and held for ten hours. The Prime Minister admitted he, as well as other political leaders, had been wrong to spend years courting the Murdoch empire – and turned on his horse-riding companion and Oxfordshire neighbour Rebekah Brooks, the media group’s UK boss. He said Mrs Brooks, editor of the News of the World at the time it is accused of hacking mobile phone messages of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, should go. ‘It has been reported that she offered her resignation over this and in this situation I would have taken it,’ the Prime Minister said. – Daily Mail

Rebekah Brooks last night told the News of the World’s staff that she had no option but to close Britain’s best-selling Sunday newspaper because it had become a “toxic brand” because of the slew of phone-hacking revelations. In a tense meeting held in Rupert Murdoch’s Wapping headquarters, with News International’s chief executive flanked by guards, and the company disabling the Twitter and email accounts of staff, Ms Brooks apologised to 250 employees and tried to defuse the fallout from her address to them 24 hours earlier, in which she had made the shock announcement that their paper was to be closed and they were losing their jobs. Ms Brooks shared a platform with the NOTW’s editor, Colin Myler, who addressed staff and received applause; Ms Brooks was greeted with silence and the occasional heckler. A NOTW staff member told The Independent that Ms Brooks dodged difficult questions: “She said: ‘I am not going to resign because these are unproven allegations,’ to which someone replied: ‘Well, you closed the paper down over these unproven allegations.’ “We were asking difficult questions about our futures and getting corporate PR-speak back. She told us that everything possible would be done to find us new jobs within News International. Someone replied that it was presumptuous to think that we even wanted to work for the company again after this.” – the Independent

Murdoch jr could still face charges

James Murdoch and News Corp could face corporate legal battles on both sides of the Atlantic that involve criminal charges, fines and forfeiture of assets as the escalating phone-hacking scandal risks damaging his chances of taking control of Rupert Murdoch’s US-based media empire. As deputy chief operating officer of News Corp – the US-listed company that is the ultimate owner of News International (NI), which in turn owns the News of the World, the Times, the Sunday Times and the Sun – the younger Murdoch has admitted he misled parliament over phone hacking, although he has stated he did not have the complete picture at the time. There have also been reports that employees routinely made payments to police officers, believed to total more than £100,000, in return for information. The payments could leave News Corp – and possibly James Murdoch himself – facing the possibility of prosecution in the US under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) – legislation designed to stamp out bad corporate behaviour that carries severe penalties for anyone found guilty of breaching it – and in the UK under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 which outlaws the interception of communications. Tony Woodcock, a partner at the City law firm Stephenson Harwood, said section 79 of the 2000 Act enabled criminal proceedings to be brought against not only a company, but also a director or similar officer where the offence was committed with their “consent or connivance” or was “attributable to any neglect on their part. While the UK phone-hacking scandal has been met with outrage in the US, the hacking itself is unlikely to prompt Washington officials into action. But because NI is a subsidiary of the US company, any payments to UK police officers could trigger a justice department inquiry under the FCPA. – the Guardian

Focus shifts to Ed’s team

The day Alastair Campbell appeared to give ­evidence to the Hutton inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly, he was given a good-luck hug by his friend Tom Baldwin. Baldwin was the Times journalist who named the weapons expert as the secret source behind the BBC’s claim that the Blair government had ‘sexed up’ a dossier about Iraq’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’ to justify going to war against Saddam Hussein. Campbell was known to liaise with Baldwin in endless attempts to ­discredit the Labour government’s enemies, the results of which regularly ended up prominently in The Times — a paper once admired for its thundering independence. ‘Tom was a ruthless operator and obsessed by the power his friend Alastair wielded in Downing Street,’ says a ­colleague. ‘I think he envied him.’ Even so, who could have imagined, when the appalling era of mendacity that marked Campbell’s tenure in Downing Street finally ended, that a new one would start a few years later? ‘Tom’s trouble is that he is totally disorganised — administratively chaotic,’ says an old colleague. ‘He has a sharp mind, but once when he went on a journalistic assignment, no one was surprised when he called the office to say he’d lost his phone and laptop.’ Those were the days when people who worked closely with Baldwin noticed him slip away from his desk for what they called ‘inquiries with Mr Coke’. No one doubted his abilities as a journalist, with ruthless energy when pursuing a story. – Daily Mail

Tags: , ,

One Response to “Saturday News Review”

  1. Steve says:

    “Focus shifts to Ed’s team”

    You realise that story is seven months old?

Leave a Reply