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Rupert Murdoch and the Corruption of the British Media

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Yeah, not good enough. By a long chalk. Closing it, while keeping her on is a smack in the face for the victims. No proper inquiry. No proper sanctions.

And he STILL hasn't apologised. "Regrettable" my hairy arse. :angry:

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July 7, 2011

The New York Times

Move to Close Newspaper Is Greeted With Suspicion


The News Corporation’s decision to shut down the British tabloid The News of the World on Thursday did little to silence the growing uproar over revelations that the newspaper had hacked into the voice mails of private citizens.

In fact, it may have only fueled the outrage.

An outpouring of suspicion and condemnation came from all directions on Thursday, and was directed chiefly at the News Corporation’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch, a figure as powerful as he is polarizing.

The British media establishment, Facebook and Twitter users and even Mr. Murdoch’s own employees questioned his move. Some said it was a ploy to salvage government approval of the News Corporation’s potentially lucrative controlling stake in the satellite company British Sky Broadcasting, or BSkyB. Others saw it as merely a rebranding.

There are already indications that The News of the World may be reconstituted in some form. People with ties to the company said Thursday that the News Corporation had for some time been examining whether to start a Sunday edition for its other British tabloid, The Sun.

The demise of The News of the World, which publishes only on Sundays, would seem to create the opportunity for that, these people said, speaking anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Mr. Murdoch’s News International is the largest national newspaper publisher in Britain, a status that affords him tremendous economic and political influence. In addition to publishing The News of the World and The Sun, News International owns The Times of London, a smaller but more prestigious paper.

The News of the World has a circulation of 2.7 million, a size that gives News International scale with advertisers and a dominance in the market that analysts say Mr. Murdoch is unlikely to want to see diminished.

“Their significant share of the newspaper market is a very important part of their power base in this country — it is essential to their force and clout,” said Claire Enders of Enders Analysis, a media research firm.

The News Corporation is unlikely to walk away from that much power, Ms. Enders added, and it would be wise to examine whether to start a publication similar to The News of the World under a different brand. Not to do so, she said, “would be a very severe business issue in terms of the existing economics of their newspapers, their revenues.”

But others questioned whether The News of the World’s success could be replicated so easily.

“I think they would be very hard pressed to get the Sunday Sun circulation to that level,” said George Brock, head of journalism at City University in London.

A Sunday Sun, he said, “is not likely to be a complete offset.”

Closing The News of the World is likely to benefit the News Corporation in one major way, Mr. Brock noted: It could help tame any threat to the company’s pending purchase of BSkyB.

The News Corporation is also dealing with a flight of advertisers, something that users of social media hoped they could accelerate by creating an online campaign to encourage a boycott of the company.

One Twitter user, Paul Friend, generated a Google document with e-mail addresses of the chief executives of the companies that advertise in the paper. The document was used by hundreds of people who then sent e-mails to executives with their complaints.

By Thursday morning, more than 20 companies said that they would be suspending or re-evaluating their advertising spending with The News of the World.

As the scandal widened this week, social media became an important vehicle for people to voice their discontent.

“The goal was not to shut down the paper,” said Melissa Harrison, a freelance magazine editor whose efforts on Twitter on Monday helped prompt thousands of people to demand that companies withdraw advertising dollars from The News of the World.

“No one wants people to lose their jobs,” Ms. Harrison said. “I think our goal was to voice public outrage. What really happened is that people have found that they have a voice. And News Corp. heard that people have a voice.”

“There is quite a lot of cynicism about what is really happening here,” she said. “It is looking like The Sun will go seven days a week and that everything stays the same.”

Ms. Harrison and a growing chorus of users on Facebook and Twitter are demanding a full accounting of the allegations that executives from The News of the World paid police officers, lied to members of Parliament and hired investigators to listen to voice mail messages left on the cellphones of a murdered girl and the victims of terrorist attacks.

“The idea that he can close the paper and it will all be forgotten is not going to work,” she said. “What we wanted was someone taking responsibility for this behavior, which means a criminal investigation.”

David Babbs, executive director of 38 Degrees, a grass-roots online advocacy group, said that more than 110,000 signatures had been gathered in recent days demanding a full inquiry and that they would be presented to government officials on Friday as a British regulatory agency formally ended its public comment period on the BSkyB deal.

The group is demanding that the government decline Mr. Murdoch’s request for a controlling stake in the satellite company.

“This latest scandal has generated such an outpouring of disgust because it reflects the sheer scale of power that the Murdoch presses have over us, not just our media but our democratic process,” Mr. Babbs said. “The phone hacking is disgusting and disgraceful, but it also reflects the broader way that he has hacked our democratic process.”

The outrage was not limited to people who see Mr. Murdoch as a political threat. Even people on his payroll objected. Employees of The Sun walked out in protest on Thursday evening.

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Murdoch has been willing to close down the News of the World, the most profitable of all the newspapers he owns, but is unwilling to sack Rebekah Brooks, the editor of the newspaper when the phones were hacked of murder victims and their parents. Why? It makes no sense at all. Or does it? Is Rebekah Brooks blackmailing Murdoch? Is she threatening to tell the public that Murdoch knew all about the phone-hacking when it took place? If that is the case, Murdoch cannot possibly sack her.

As I have pointed out several times before, I believe David Cameron was blackmailed by Murdoch to employ Andy Coulson. Murdoch thought that this would ensure Cameron protected him and the News International empire from prosecution. I suspect that Cameron was recieving information on Labour politicians as a result of this phone-hacking. Will the full-story ever come out. Probably not but enough of it will to bring down News International.

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Phone hacking: Police probe suspected deletion of emails by NI executive

'Massive quantities' of archive allegedly deleted

Emails believed to be between News of the World editors

By Nick Davies and Amelia Hill


Friday 8 July 2011 14.18 BST

Police are investigating evidence that a News International executive may have deleted millions of emails from an internal archive, in an apparent attempt to obstruct Scotland Yard's inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal.

The archive is believed to have reached back to January 2005 revealing daily contact between News of the World editors, reporters and outsiders, including private investigators. The messages are potentially highly valuable both for the police and for the numerous public figures who are suing News International.

According to legal sources close to the police inquiry, a senior executive is believed to have deleted 'massive quantities' of the archive on two separate occasions, leaving only a small fraction to be disclosed. One of the alleged deletions is said to have been made at the end of January this year, just as Scotland Yard was launching Operation Weeting, its new inquiry into the affair.

The allegation directly contradicts repeated claims from News International that it is co-operating fully with police in order to expose its history of illegal news-gathering. It is likely to be seen as evidence that the company could not pass a 'fit and proper person' test for its proposed purchase of BSkyB.

A Guardian investigation has found that, in addition to deleting emails, the company has also:

• infuriated police by leaking sensitive information in spite of an undertaking to police that it would keep it confidential; and

• risked prosecution for perverting the course of justice by trying to hide the contents of a senior reporter's desk after he was arrested by Weeting detectives in earlier this year.

News International originally claimed that the archive of emails did not exist. Last December, its Scottish editor, Bob Bird, told the trial of Tommy Sheridan in Glasgow that the emails had been lost en route to Mumbai. Also in December, the company's solicitor Julian Pike from Farrer and Co provided the high court with a statement claiming that it was unable to retrieve emails which were more than six months old.

The first hint that this was not true came in late January when News International handed Scotland Yard evidence which led to the immediate sacking of its news editor Ian Edmondson and to the launch of Operation Weeting. It was reported at the time that this evidence consisted of three old emails.

Three months later, on 23 March this year, Pike formally apologised to the high court and acknowledged that News International could locate emails as far back as 2005 and that no emails had ever been lost en route to Mumbai or anywhere else in India. In a signed statement seen by the Guardian, Pike said he had been misinformed by the News of the World's in-house lawyer, Tom Crone, who had told him that he, too, had been misled. He offered no explanation for the misleading evidence given by Bob Bird.

The original archive was said to contain half a terabyte of data - equivalent to 500 editions of Encyclopaedia Britannica. But police now believe that there was an effort to substantially destroy the archive before News International handed over their new evidence in January. They believe they have identified the executive responsible by following an electronic audit trail. They have attempted to retrieve the data which they fear was lost. The Crown Prosecution Service is believed to have been asked whether the executive can be charged with perverting the course of justice.

At the heart of the affair is a specialist data company, Essential Computing, based in Clevedon, near Bristol. Staff there have been interviewed by Operation Weeting. One source speculated that it was this company which had compelled News International to admit that the archive existed.

The Guardian understands that Essential Computing has co-operated with police and has provided evidence about an alleged attempt by the News International executive to destroy part of the archive while they were working with it. This is said to have happened after the executive discovered that the company retained material of which News International was unaware.

The alleged deletion has caused tension between News International and Scotland Yard, who are also angry over recent leaks. When the Murdoch company handed over evidence of their journalists' involvement in bribing police officers in late June, they wanted to make a public announcement, claiming credit for their assistance to police. They were warned that this would interfere with inquiries and finally agreed that they would keep the entire matter confidential until early August, to allow police to make arrests. In the event, this week, a series of leaks has led Scotland Yard to conclude that News International breached the agreement.

There was friction too earlier this year when Weeting detectives arrested a senior journalist. When they went to the News of the World's office to search his desk, they found that all of its contents had been removed and lodged with a firm of solicitors, who initially refused to hand it over. The solicitors eventually complied. A file is believed to have been sent to the Crown Prosecution service seeking advice on whether anybody connected with the incident should be charged.

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Murdoch has been willing to close down the News of the World, the most profitable of all the newspapers he owns, but is unwilling to sack Rebekah Brooks, the editor of the newspaper when the phones were hacked of murder victims and their parents. Why? It makes no sense at all. Or does it? Is Rebekah Brooks blackmailing Murdoch? Is she threatening to tell the public that Murdoch knew all about the phone-hacking when it took place? If that is the case, Murdoch cannot possibly sack her.

As I have pointed out several times before, I believe David Cameron was blackmailed by Murdoch to employ Andy Coulson. Murdoch thought that this would ensure Cameron protected him and the News International empire from prosecution. I suspect that Cameron was recieving information on Labour politicians as a result of this phone-hacking. Will the full-story ever come out. Probably not but enough of it will to bring down News International.

I concur with your opinion on this, John. Rebekah Brooks knows too much for Murdoch to fire her. The New York Times today describes their relationship as he adoring her almost like a daughter. What I read in its article is that she has the knowledge to bring down the entire house of cards. If she is prosecuted, which is a real possibility, then she might use her knowledge of what has transpired to lessen the adverse outcome of her own case. I also believe it is likely that Murdoch and his minions may have used wiretapping extensively in their business and political dealings here in the U.S. So far there has been no public hint or allegation of this. But Brooks may know about this aspect also, which makes her especially dangerous to Murdoch -- unless something happens to her now that she is in harm's way.

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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Heads will roll but not of those ultimately responsible.

The phoenix will rise from the ashes, untarnished by justice.

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Andy Coulson and ex-royal reporter Clive Goodman arrested

The Independent

Friday, 8 July 2011

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson and one of his former top reporters were being questioned about alleged corruption today after a dramatic double arrest by Scotland Yard.

Mr Coulson, the ex-Downing Street communications chief, was also being questioned over phone hacking during his time at the paper.

Police sources later confirmed that former royal editor Clive Goodman - who was jailed in January 2007 over the scandal - had been rearrested in connection with alleged payments to police.

Mr Coulson, 43, and Mr Goodman, 53, were being held for questioning at different police stations in south London.

The former editor had been expected to be arrested after an appointment at a station but Mr Goodman - who currently works for the Daily Star Sunday - was held after a dawn swoop by officers at his home in Surrey.

Detectives are searching both Mr Coulson's address in Forest Hill, south London, and Mr Goodman's property.

Officers investigating Operation Elveden - the inquiry into payments to police by the News of the World - and Operation Weeting, the long-running hacking investigation, are questioning the pair.

Referring to Goodman's arrest, a Scotland Yard statement said: "At 6.11am officers from the MPS' Operation Weeting together with officers from Operation Elveden arrested a man on suspicion of corruption allegations in contravention of Section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.

"The man, aged 53, was arrested at a residential address in Surrey. A search is ongoing at this address."

Meanwhile former News of the World journalist Sophy Ridge said News International Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks addressed News of the World staff this afternoon, saying that she was staying on at News International "because she is a conductor for it all".

Ms Brooks said the decision to close the News of the World was taken because there could be another "two years plus" of trouble, Ms Ridge wrote on Twitter.

The Sky News political correspondent tweeted: "Rebekah Brooks said that advertisers said the brand was 'toxic', I'm hearing, and the decision 'was not done lightly'."

Ms Ridge also wrote that Ms Brooks said she was "trying to find them jobs where possible across News International and News Corp".

Ms Brooks "apologised to staff for 'operational issues' ie email access", Ms Ridge added.

And in a further development the Daily Star Sunday said detectives spent two hours at its offices in central London and took away a disc containing a record of all Mr Goodman's computer activity.

The paper stressed that there was "no suggestion whatsoever" that the journalist acted improperly during his occasional freelance shifts at the tabloid.

The Daily Star Sunday said in a statement: "Scotland Yard today sought the help of the Daily Star Sunday as they investigated allegations of police corruption involving the News of the World and its former royal editor Clive Goodman.

"They confirmed they were similarly carrying out these routine checks at all places where Mr Goodman has worked as a freelance since he left the News of the World.

"Officers formally requested any and all computer material that Goodman had been involved with during his occasional shifts as a freelance reporter at the paper over the last year to cross-check it with his activities in his News of the World role.

"They were particularly interested to check Mr Goodman's current email contacts to cross-match them with those from his time at the News of the World.

"There was no suggestion whatsoever that Mr Goodman had acted improperly during his occasional shifts at the Daily Star Sunday, and we can confirm that no payments of any kind were ever made by the newspaper to Clive Goodman contacts.

"After requesting the Daily Star Sunday's help, police were invited to visit the newspaper's offices where they were provided with a copy of all Mr Goodman's computer activity.

"The three officers were similarly invited to examine any desk where Mr Goodman may have sat during shifts. They left after approximately two hours with a disc of Mr Goodman's computer activity.

"For the record, the Daily Star Sunday has never carried, and has never been accused of carrying, any story that might have stemmed from phone hacking."

The moves by Scotland Yard pile further pressure on the Prime Minister, who gave Mr Coulson a job at No 10 despite his association with the scandal.

Mr Coulson had been widely expected to face police action today but few had predicted the decision to rearrest Mr Goodman, who was jailed in 2007.

It is the latest bombshell in a catastrophic week for News International chiefs, who announced they were shutting the Sunday tabloid because it had betrayed its readers' trust.

Mr Goodman was arrested in August 2006 along with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire over allegations that they hacked into the mobile phones of members of the royal household.

Five months later the royal reporter was jailed for four months and Mulcaire for six months after they admitted intercepting voicemail messages, including some left by Prince William, now the Duke of Cambridge.

The Old Bailey heard the pair tapped into more than 600 messages on the phones of royal family aides.

Mr Coulson responded by resigning as News of the World editor, saying he "deeply regretted" what happened and took "ultimate responsibility" for it.

Shockwaves from the hacking revelations and police payment allegations prompted David Cameron to promise today he would "get to the bottom" of the scandal.

Mr Coulson was arrested at 10.30am on suspicion of "conspiring to intercept communications" and "corruption allegations contrary to Section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906".

As Mr Coulson was being questioned by detectives, Mr Cameron revealed he had grown close to his former adviser and built up a friendship.

The Prime Minister said they discussed the hacking allegations while he was employed but he never had reason to doubt "the assurances he had given me and I accepted".

Of their contact since Mr Coulson's January resignation, he added: "I have spoken to him, I have seen him, not recently and not frequently, but when you work with someone for four years as I did, and you work closely, you do build a friendship and I became friends with him. He became a friend and is a friend."

Plain-clothed officers arrived at Mr Coulson's detached home in Forest Hill, south London, shortly before lunchtime carrying evidence bags.

One shouted "no comment" to reporters before informing them "nobody crosses this line" as he walked across the driveway.

Mr Coulson has been dogged by allegations of phone hacking on his watch for years, forcing him to give up his positions as News of the World editor and then as the Conservatives' top spin doctor.

Confirmation of the arrests prompted speculation that more executives from one of Britain's biggest newspaper publishers will face police action in the coming days.

Mr Cameron said he took responsibility for Mr Coulson's hiring by the Government but insisted he had commissioned a firm to carry out a background check beforehand.

Mr Coulson resigned from the No 10 post in January, saying the drip-drip of claims about illegal eavesdropping under his editorship was making his job impossible.

The Prime Minister said: "I made the decision, there had been a police investigation, someone had been sent to prison, this editor had resigned, he said he didn't know what was happening on his watch but he resigned when he found out, and I thought it was right to give that individual a second chance."

Mr Cameron said he and Mr Coulson spoke before Christmas about him leaving Downing Street.

"It wasn't in the light of any specific thing, it was a sense that the second chance wasn't working," he said.

The Prime Minister outlined sweeping changes to the way newspapers are regulated in the wake of the agenda-setting tabloid being sacrificed by James Murdoch, chairman of News International.

The decision was announced after advertisers deserted in droves over claims that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, bereaved military families and relatives of 7/7 bombing victims were targeted by hackers working for the tabloid.

Amid widespread public anger, police chiefs revealed that 4,000 people might have fallen victim and that evidence indicated journalists had paid officers.

Labour leader Ed Miliband refuted claims by former Conservative deputy party chairman Lord Ashcroft that his own director of communications, Tom Baldwin, had used private investigators while he was a journalist at The Times.

Mr Miliband told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme: "Michael Ashcroft, the large Conservative party donor, has been putting it around that somehow Tom Baldwin hired a private investigator illegally to look into him.

"Tom Baldwin absolutely denies that."

Mr Miliband claimed David Cameron's aides had been handed a wealth of information warning them about practices Mr Coulson had been involved in while editor of the News of the World.

He added: "If he (the Prime Minister) wants to really lead change in the Press in this country he's got to come clean and he has got to apologise for hiring somebody who had resigned as editor of the News of the World over phone hacking."

He added: "As leader of the Labour party I take responsibility for the fact that we should have been more outspoken about phone hacking earlier on, we should have been more willing to speak out without fear or favour about some of the actions of News International."

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs select committee, told World at One he would be writing to the Prime Minister today with recommendations about what the inquiries should look at.

He said the remit should be "as wide as possible" and hone in on where witnesses to the committee's previous investigations into the issue had been "less than open and transparent".

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All the Publisher's Men (Not to Mention Ms. Brooks)


July 8-10, 2011


Having spent many weeks amidst the Strauss-Kahn case listening the locals assert that America’s justice is superior to France’s, we’re now pitchforked into the next debate: could US journalism sink to the septic depths of the scandal-ridden News of the World whose immediate closure Murdoch’s News International announced Thursday, and one of whose former editors, Andrew Coulson, later prime minister Cameron’s media advisor, now awaits arrest.

What would happen if Rupert Murdoch had ever built a press empire over here?

Hold hard! One of Rupert Murdoch’s earliest ventures in America, back in the early 1970s, was to found the Star, as a weekly rival to the best selling supermarket tabloid, The National Enquirer, paddling in the shallow waters of Hollywood gossip, gothic crime.

There was one huge difference with the British tabloids. The Enquirer and the Star were never reckoned to be part of the “national press” as the News of the World has been. They had zero political clout, and inflicted no political endorsements on their readers. They sold in 7/11 stores and supermarkets to an audience that did not lay them aside to pick up the New York Times.

The respectable press ignored the Star and the Enquirer even though they broke big stories. The Star, sold by Murdoch in 1990 to the Enquirer’s parent company, was the first, in January 1992, to expose Clinton’s philandering, during his run for the presidency. He survived precisely because the scoop, about his long affair with Gennifer Flowers, was in the Star and could be deprecated as being in a mere tabloid.

The same thing happened with the Enquirer and John Edwards, encumbered with a mistress as well as a wife with terminal cancer during his run for the presidency in 2008. The Enquirer was reporting accurately on John and Rielle’s “love child” at the same moment as newspapers were giving Edwards a pass on the “tabloid tattle” rationale. Finally the Enquirer was quite properly put up for a Pulitzer, though the jurors, respectable newspaper executives and the like, made sure it didn’t win one.

Both the Star and the Enquirer were mostly run by Fleet Street veterans and there’s no particular reason to assume that these transplants were of innately superior moral caliber to Murdoch’s crew at the News of the World, or would be aghast at the notion of breaking into voicemail boxes, fostering corrupt relationships with cops and so forth.

In fact the Enquirer had such swift, real-time inside dope on the movements of Edwards and his mistress that in retrospect I now wonder whether some investigator or in-house hacker had discharged the same duties as private investigator and hacker Glenn Mulcaire, now whining about the incessant demands of the editors at the News of the World.

The darker moral moments for America’s press came in the 1940s and 1950s. Billy Wilder’s 1951 Ace in the Hole and, six years later, Alexander McKendrick’s unforgettable film, Sweet Smell of Success, with Burt Lancaster playing a character modeled on the hugely powerful gossip columnist Walter Winchell, caught exactly the journalistic moral corruption that has Britain gasping in revulsion today at the Milly Dowler hacking by the News of the World.

This was the era that saw Hoover, all-powerful head of the FBI, working week by week with nationally syndicated columnists like Winchell and Hedda Hopper to destroy suspected Commies, uppity blacks, and kindred subversives. By the mid-1970s radicalism was on an ebb tide and this tactical alliance between columnists and cops less a political requirement. By the late 1970s Hollywood-based gossip became dominant, entirely fluff, on terms dictated by the Hollywood studios.

Murdoch began with the Star because the big city papers he craved for weren’t up for sale at that time. Then in 1976 he bought the New York Post, and seems to have lost interest in the Star. When he bought the Post the press treated the acquisition of Dolly Schiff’s liberal paper as a dark day for American journalism. Either Time or Newsweek or New York magazine later bought by Murdoch) had a cartoon of Murdoch on the cover as an ape shinning up the Empire State building.

As his empire grew, the zeroes in the price of his acquisitions, in his debts to the banks, in his personal fortune , predictably smoothed Murdoch’s image. But there’s nothing like competitive pressures to prompt an editor, or a publisher, to call for the knuckle-dusters. American newspapers in their profitable heyday were mostly regional monopolies. It was Murdoch’s takeover of the Wall Street Journal in 2007 and vows to knock the New York Times off its perch that prompted the Times, under its recently ousted editor Bill Keller to run last September a very long, closely reported story on the News of the World hacking scandal, which helped breathe life back into the story.

What began in Britain in 2005 as “a third-rate burglary” of voicemails, supposedly limited to a criminal invasion of privacy by a News of the World reporter and a private investigator, had flowered beautifully over six years into a Level 7 scandal threatening the careers of two of Rupert Murdoch’s top executives, not to mention the heir apparent to the News Corp. empire, James Murdoch. It even lapped at the ankles of the 80-year-old magnate, threatening the final financial triumph that was scheduled to usher him into Valhalla.

Cameron was scarcely installed in 10 Downing Street before he summoned Andy Coulson as his media adviser. It was a flagrant declaration of interest, since Coulson was a notably grimy character in the Murdoch archipelago, having served as editor of News of the World—a job akin to supervising the efficient distribution of raw sewage into the prurient hands of about 3 million Britons every Sunday. Cameron’s hire showed him as yet one more occupant of 10 Downing St, diligent in servicing Murdoch’s demands, just as Blair did. But the Coulson hire was one which will haunt Cameron as an exceptionally stupid move.

Amid the first stages of the phone-hacking scandal, Coulson resigned as editor when NoW reporter Clive Goodman, who ran the royal beat, and private investigator Mulcaire were convicted of hacking into the phone messages of members of the royal family. With Goodman and Mulcaire sent to jail and Coulson stepping down, Murdoch’s senior executives no doubt hoped that a lid had been clamped down on the scandal.

The first line of defense—that Goodman and Mulcaire were unlicensed freebooters operating outside decorous guidelines—swiftly fell apart under the weight of palpable absurdity. As Nigel Horne, executive editor of the UK-based online daily The First Post, emphasizes, “The idea of rogue reporters blowing money without the knowledge of their bosses is a joke.” The paper paid Mulcaire £2,000 a week.

On January 21 of this year Coulson quit his job as Cameron’s media advisor, saying that the hacking scandal was taking up most of his time.

In 2002 the News of the World illegally broke into the voicemail of a missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler shortly after her disappearance. The news, reported by the Guardian on last Monday, caused huge public outrage in Britain.

Having recorded the messages he had retrieved, Mulcaire, then deleted older messages in Milly Dowler's inbox once it was full, in order to free up space for further messages from Milly's frantic family and friends, which he also intercepted and passed back to News of the World journalists. By deleting messages illegally retrieved from Milly Dowler's mobile phone, the paper misled her family into believing she had emptied her inbox herself and was still alive, though by then she had been murdered.This gave the family hope, which was exploited by the paper in publishing optimistic interviews with them, although of course aware that the optimism was entirely unfounded.

In deleting the earlier messages, the paper also removed material evidence in a murder investigation, information that would have had a direct impact on the police investigation of Milly's disappearance.

As the grimy NoW saga lurches forward, impelled by the Guardian’s exposes, nothing looms in my memory as an American parallel more than the Watergate scandal that destroyed Richard Nixon’s presidency. It really began with one of Nixon’s senior aides, John Ehrichman, forming a “White House plumbers unit” assigned hands-on hacking duties, starting with a break-in to the office of whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg’s shrink, to get dirt on Ellsberg. If cell phones had existed back then they’d have hacked his too.

Then came an attempted “third-rate” burglary of the offices of the Democratic National Committee to install a secret microphone .The burglars were caught and for Nixon, slowly at first, the skies began to fall in. It took two years. The investigation, pushed forward by two Congressional committees, an independent prosecutor and newspapers run by publishers hostile to Nixon gradually pushed responsibility for hiring the hands-on hackers up the tree, into the White House, into John Ehrlichman’s office. Suspects were parlaying deals with prosecutors to avoid jail time for perjury and obstruction of justice by implicating their superiors.

The disclosures steadily became more devastating. Nixon threw Ehrlichman overboard. Finally a mid-level White House employee let drop to a Congressional committee that Nixon had secretly tape recorded his private meetings. The tapes were subpoenaed and “a smoking gun” duly found. Nixon resigned a few days later.

“Never believe anything till it’s officially denied” was one my father Claud’s admonitions to young journalists and here we had Murdoch hastening to emphasize that NOW editor Rebekah Brooks, News International’s top executive in Britain, was on holiday in Italy at the moment weekly payments of £2,000 were being okayed by NOW executives to Mulcaire and while the Milly Dowler hacking was underway. Presumably, amid this idyll, Brooks took no phone calls or faxes or emails from London.

Barely had the Dowling outrage hit the headlines, before it emerged that on Coulson’s watch the News of the World had authorised bribes to senor police officers at Scotland Yard totalling at least £150,000. Families of British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan had also been hacked. Emails and abusive phone calls flowed into the newspaper, provoking an advertisers’ boycott.

As Murdoch sized up the crisis, his prime objective was clearly to save News Corp.’s $20 billion bid for full control of the enormously profitable BSkyB network (News Corp. holds about 40 percent). Cameron’s government had been set to okay the deal, arguing that scandal at the News of the World was immaterial. But the public fury after the Dowling story broke forced Cameron to take some sort of a stand. So he took refuge in that familiar stand-by, the public commission of enquiry into the practices of British journalism, as yet without a mandate, no deadline and the sole function of trying to douse a flaring scandal. Murdoch’s foes argue that in a takeover as momentous in the control of British television as the BSkyB deal, the moral character of the purchaser is obviously relevant.

On Thursday Murdoch took the logical decision stemming from the fact that the News of the World was permanently compromised, an unending source of trouble, huge damage settlements, and the likelihood that the scandal would finish off Rebekah Brooks, the Murdoch organization’s senior rep in the U.K., for whom Murdoch has high regard and affection, . His son James announced the News of the World would close immediately after the final edition this Sunday. Every week without the NoW will lose News International more than £2.5m. The paper – by far Britain's biggest Sunday, with a circulation of 2.66 million - was making £2m in circulation revenue and about £660,000 in advertising revenue each week. All this is a drop in the bucket in News International’s overall revenues.

The closure will probably save the BSkyB deal. After a short internal the News of the World will no doubt be replaced by a Sunday edition of the other big tabloid in Murdoch’s British stable. Maybe in the fall, welcome the Sun on Sunday. The scandal won’t die, because hacked victims are lining up for hefty settlements and there are criminal investigations prompting imminent arrests of News of the World journalists and executives. But the top tier of Murdoch’s executives will probably stay out of jail, unless Coulson, clearly being tossed over the side, decides to shop his superiors and has the documentation to do so. As British journalist, Peter Burden, a British journalist who has written extensively about News of the World, wrote on his blog a few weeks ago:

“If Andy Coulson was involved, so was Rebekah Brooks. If Rebekah Brooks was involved, so was Master James [Murdoch]. And if they were, it’s very likely that Les Hinton, CEO of [Dow Jones and Company] (the brightest bird in Rupert Murdoch’s bush), was involved, too, because he was Executive Chairman of News International at the time.”

Few corporate employees are more sensitive to the whims, preferences and overall political and moral coordinates of their commanders than journalists. Murdoch, ruthless and unprincipled his entire professional life, has cast a long, dark shadow over journalism in Australia, Britain and the US. As plumbers like to say, xxxx flows downhill and payday comes on Friday. From Murdoch’s closet to the furthest reaches of his empire. Small wonder that his employees carried out their grimy tasks without demur

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Hacking scandal: is this Britain's Watergate?

The Independent

By Oliver Wright, Ian Burrell, Martin Hickman, Cahal Milmo and Andrew Grice

Saturday, 9 July 2011

David Cameron was forced to cut Rupert Murdoch and his newspaper empire loose from the heart of government yesterday as he tried to deflect public anger about his failure to tackle the phone-hacking scandal.

Mr Cameron turned on Mr Murdoch's son James, saying there were questions "that need to be answered" about his role during the phone-hacking cover-up, and criticising him for not accepting the resignation of News International's chief executive Rebekah Brooks.

He also admitted that his desire to win support from the company's newspapers had led him to turn "a blind eye" as evidence grew of widespread illegality at the News of the World.

With a newspaper closed, five arrests and more to follow, 4,000 possible victims, a media empire shaken to its foundations and the Prime Minister reeling, the escalating scandal has become a controversy comparable to the US Watergate saga, with ramifications for Downing Street, the media and police.

Last night the media regulator Ofcom announced it would contact police about the conduct of Mr Murdoch's empire in covering up phone-hacking allegations, to determine whether it was a "fit and proper" owner of the broadcaster BSkyB, which Mr Murdoch is attempting to buy outright. He is due to fly into London today to deal with the crisis, according to reports. Shares in the broadcaster fell by eight per cent.

In a day of further dramatic developments it emerged that:

*Police are investigating allegations that a News International (NI) executive deleted millions of emails from an internal archive, in an apparent attempt to obstruct inquiries into phone hacking.

*Andy Coulson was arrested on suspicion of bribing police officers and conspiracy to phone hack, and Clive Goodman, the NOTW's former royal correspondent, was held in a dawn raid on suspicion of bribing police officers. Both were bailed. A 63-year-old man, thought to be a private investigator, was also arrested in Surrey.

*Mr Cameron's most senior officials were warned before the last election about connections between Mr Coulson and Jonathan Rees, a private investigator paid up to £150,000 a year to illegally trawl for personal information. But Mr Cameron appointed Mr Coulson as his director of communications.

*A judge-led public inquiry will take place to investigate phone hacking. Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch are prepared to give evidence on phone hacking under oath.

*Ms Brooks was stripped of control of NI's internal investigation and faced calls for her resignation from the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

*Wapping sources warned of worse phone-hacking revelations to come.

At a Downing Street press conference, Mr Cameron defended his decision to appoint Mr Coulson but admitted his relationship with senior members of the Murdoch empire had been too close.

"The deeper truth is this... because party leaders were so keen to win the support of newspapers we turned a blind eye to the need to sort this issue, get on top of the bad practices, to change the way our newspapers are regulated," he said. "I want to deal with it."

Mr Cameron said he now thought it was wrong to keep Ms Brooks at the company: "It has been reported that she offered her resignation over this and in this situation, I would have taken it."

Mr Cameron was also asked whether James Murdoch remained a fit and proper person to run a large company, following his admission yesterday that he personally approved out-of-court payments in a way which he now accepted was wrong. The Prime Minister replied: "I read the statement yesterday. I think it raises lots of questions that need to be answered and these processes that are under way are going to have to answer those questions."

Mr Cameron announced two inquires: one to deal with phone hacking and the failure of the police to properly investigate it, and another into press regulation. He said it was clear that the Press Complaints Commission had failed and the second inquiry would bringing forward proposals for an independent body.

Asked what enquiries he had made before employing Andy Coulson, the Prime Minister said: "Obviously I sought assurances, I received assurances. I commissioned a company to do a basic background check."

But the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, said Mr Cameron was still failing to restore confidence in the Government's handling of the scandal: "This is a Prime Minister who clearly still doesn't get it. He is ploughing on regardless on BSkyB. He failed to apologise for the catastrophic mistake of bringing Andy Coulson into the heart of government.

"His wholly unconvincing answers of what he knew and when he knew it about Mr Coulson's activities undermine his ability to lead the change Britain needs."

Asked if Mrs Brooks should consider her position, Mr Clegg told The Independent: "Yes. The whole senior management has to ask how it could have presided over this without appearing to know what was going on. Someone somewhere higher up the food chain needs to be held to account. You can't just ask journalists, secretaries, photographers and low-paid office workers to carry the can for a failure, on James Murdoch's own admission, of corporate governance."

Watergate Parallels

The Watergate and phone-hacking scandals had small beginnings – a break-in at a hotel, and a single "rogue" reporter and private detective. The News of the World scandal is not just about phone hacking. It is also about statements made to Parliament, personally to David Cameron, and in a court of law which – as James Murdoch has now admitted – were not true. As with Watergate, which brought down Richard Nixon's presidency, the cover-up could have bigger implications than the original offence.

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James Murdoch could face criminal charges on both sides of the Atlantic

As phone hacking scandal leaves News Corp open to prosecution, James Murdoch looks less likely to inherit empire

By Dominic Rushe and Jill Treanor


Friday 8 July 2011 20.18 BST

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". Woodcock said: "This could embrace a wide number of people at the highest level within an organisation, such as a chief executive – not just the individual who 'pushed the button' allowing the intercept to take place or someone (perhaps less senior) who encouraged or was otherwise an accessory to the offence, such as an editor."

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 1977 Act generally prohibits American companies and citizens from corruptly paying – or offering to pay – foreign officials to obtain or retain business.

The Butler University law professor Mike Koehler, an FCPA expert, said: "I would be very surprised if the US authorities don't become involved in this [NI] conduct."

He said the scandal appeared to qualify as an FCPA case on two counts. First, News Corp is a US-listed company, giving the US authorities jurisdiction to investigate allegations. "Second, perhaps more importantly, the act requires that payments to government officials need to be in the furtherance of 'obtaining or retaining' business. If money is being paid to officials, in this case the police, in order to get information to write sensational stories to sell newspapers, that would qualify," he said.

Koehler said the US justice department was increasingly keen to bring cases against individuals as well as companies, because prosecuting people brought "maximum deterrence". He added: "Companies just pay out shareholders' money. There's not much deterrence there." Tom Fox, a Houston-based lawyer who specialises in FCPA cases and anti-corruption law, said most corporate cases were settled before going to court. But for individuals who are successfully prosecuted the penalties are severe.

In 2009 the former Hollywood movie producer Gerald Green and his wife, Patricia, were jailed for six months in the first criminal case under the FCPA. The Greens, whose credits included Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn, were convicted of paying $1.8m in bribes to a government official in Thailand in exchange for contracts to manage the Bangkok international film festival.

FCPA charges can carry up to five years in jail for each charge but the Greens' short prison sentence was not the harshest element of their sentencing. The "biggest hammer" prosecutors hold is forfeiture of assets, said Fox. "The Greens lost everything. Their house, savings, retirement plan. They are destitute now."

Bringing an FCPA case against the company would be far easier than bringing an action against James Murdoch. As yet there appears to be no evidence that he was directly linked to authorising the police payments. "If you don't know about it, that is a valid defence for an individual," said Koehler. In New York, media executives believe that with or without an FCPA case James Murdoch has already fatally damaged his chances of taking his father's crown.

One said: "There has been a sense of unravelling at News Corp for a while. The Daily, MySpace, Project Alesia – they look like News is chasing rainbows. [Rupert] Murdoch is looking old. It affects his ability to appoint an heir and I don't think James even has the backing of his family any more." Speculation is that Chase Carey, the chief operating officer, is most likely to take the top slot when and if the media mogul steps aside. "He is the ultimate Murdoch operative. He is not interested in the trappings of the media business. What would he do? Close the New York Post, sell the Times. Why not? It's a rational thing to do."

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Murdochs Watergate?

His anything-goes approach has spread through journalism like a contagion. Now it threatens to undermine the influence he so covets.

By Carl Bernstein


July 11, 2011


The hacking scandal currently shaking Rupert Murdochs empire will surprise only those who have willfully blinded themselves to that empires pernicious influence on journalism in the English-speaking world. Too many of us have winked in amusement at the salaciousness without considering the larger corruption of journalism and politics promulgated by Murdoch Culture on both sides of the Atlantic.

The facts of the case are astonishing in their scope. Thousands of private phone messages hacked, presumably by people affiliated with the Murdoch-owned News of the World newspaper, with the violated parties ranging from Prince William and actor Hugh Grant to murder victims and families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The arrest of Andy Coulson, former press chief to Prime Minister David Cameron, for his role in the scandal during his tenure as the papers editor. The arrest (for the second time) of Clive Goodman, the papers former royals editor. The shocking July 7 announcement that the paper would cease publication three days later, putting hundreds of employees out of work. Murdochs bid to acquire full control of cable-news company BSkyB placed in jeopardy. Allegations of bribery, wiretapping, and other forms of lawbreakingnot to mention the charge that emails were deleted by the millions in order to thwart Scotland Yards investigation.

All of this surrounding a man and a media empire with no serious rivals for political influence in Britainespecially, but not exclusively, among the conservative Tories who currently run the country. Almost every prime minister since the Harold Wilson era of the 1960s and 70s has paid obeisance to Murdoch and his unmatched power. When Murdoch threw his annual London summer party for the United Kingdoms political, journalistic, and social elite at the Orangery in Kensington Gardens on June 16, Prime Minister Cameron and his wife, Sam, were there, as were Labour leader Ed Miliband and assorted other cabinet ministers.

Murdoch associates, present and formerand his biographershave said that one of his greatest long-term ambitions has been to replicate that political and cultural power in the United States. For a long time his vehicle was the New York Postnot profitable, but useful for increasing his eminence and working a wholesale change not only in American journalism but in the broader culture as well. Page Six, emblematic in its carelessness about accuracy or truth or contextbut oh-so-readablebecame the model for the gossipization of an American press previously resistant to even considering publishing its like. (Murdoch accomplished a similar debasement of the airwaves in the 1990s with thetame by todays far-lower standardstabloid television show Hard Copy.)

Then came the unfair and imbalanced politicized news of the Fox News Channelshowing (again) Murdochs genius at building an empire on the basis of an ever-descending lowest journalistic denominator. It, too, rests on a foundation that has little or nothing to do with the best traditions and values of real reporting and responsible journalism: the best obtainable version of the truth. In place of this journalistic ideal, the enduring Murdoch ethic substitutes gossip, sensationalism, and manufactured controversy.

And finally, in 2007 The Wall Street Journals squabbling family owners succumbed to his acumen, willpower, and money, fulfilling Murdochs dream of owning an American newspaper to match the influence and prestige of his U.K. holding, The Times of Londonone that really mattered, at the topmost tier of journalism.

Between the Post, Fox News, and the Journal, its hard to think of any other individual who has had a greater impact on American political and media culture in the past half century.

But now the empire is shaking, and theres no telling when it will stop. My conversations with British journalists and politiciansall of them insistent on speaking anonymously to protect themselves from retribution by the still-enormously powerful mogulmake evident that the shuttering of News of the World, and the official inquiries announced by the British government, are the beginning, not the end, of the seismic event.

News International, the British arm of Murdochs media empire, has always worked on the principle of omertà: Do not say anything to anybody outside the family, and we will look after you, notes a former Murdoch editor who knows the system well. Now they are hanging people out to dry. The moment you do that, the omertà is gone, and people are going to talk. It looks like a circular firing squad.

News of the World was always Murdochs baby, one of the largest newspapers in the English-speaking world, with 2.6 million readers. As anyone in the business will tell you, the standards and culture of a journalistic institution are set from the top down, by its owner, publisher, and top editors. Reporters and editors do not routinely break the law, bribe policemen, wiretap, and generally conduct themselves like thugs unless it is a matter of recognized and understood policy. Private detectives and phone hackers do not become the primary sources of a newspapers information without the tacit knowledge and approval of the people at the top, all the more so in the case of newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch, according to those who know him best.

As one of his former top executivesonce a close aidetold me, This scandal and all its implications could not have happened anywhere else. Only in Murdochs orbit. The hacking at News of the World was done on an industrial scale. More than anyone, Murdoch invented and established this culture in the newsroom, where you do whatever it takes to get the story, take no prisoners, destroy the competition, and the end will justify the means.

In the end, what you sow is what you reap, said this same executive. Now Murdoch is a victim of the culture that he created. It is a logical conclusion, and it is his people at the top who encouraged lawbreaking and hacking phones and condoned it.

Could Murdoch eventually be criminally charged? He has always surrounded himself with trusted subordinates and family members, so perhaps it is unlikely. Though Murdoch has strenuously denied any knowledge at all of the hacking and bribery, its hard to believe that his top deputies at the paper didnt think they had a green light from him to use such untraditional reportorial methods. Investigators are already assembling voluminous records that demonstrate the systemic lawbreaking at News of the World, and Scotland Yard seems to believe what was happening in the newsroom was endemic at the highest levels at the paper and evident within the corporate structure. Checks have been found showing tens of thousands of dollars of payments at a time.

For this reporter, it is impossible not to consider these facts through the prism of Watergate. When Bob Woodward and I came up against difficult ethical questions, such as whether to approach grand jurors for information (which we did, and perhaps shouldnt have), we sought executive editor Ben Bradlees counsel, and he in turn called in the company lawyers, who gave the go-ahead and outlined the legal issues in full. Publisher Katharine Graham was informed. Likewise, Bradlee was aware when I obtained private telephone and credit-card records of one of the Watergate figures.

All institutions have lapses, even great ones, especially by individual rogue employeesfamously in recent years at The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the three original TV networks. But can anyone who knows and understands the journalistic process imagine the kind of tactics regularly employed by the Murdoch press, especially at News of the World, being condoned at the Post or the Times?

And then theres the other inevitable Watergate comparison. The circumstances of the alleged lawbreaking within News Corp. suggest more than a passing resemblance to Richard Nixon presiding over a criminal conspiracy in which he insulated himself from specific knowledge of numerous individual criminal acts while being himself responsible for and authorizing general policies that routinely resulted in lawbreaking and unconstitutional conduct. Not to mention his role in the cover-up. It will remain for British authorities and, presumably, disgusted and/or legally squeezed News Corp. executives and editors to reveal exactly where the rot came from at News of the World, and whether Rupert Murdoch enabled, approved, or opposed the obvious corruption that infected his underlings.

None of this is to deny Murdochs competitive genius, his superior understanding of the modern media marketplace, or his dead-on reading of popular culture. He has made occasionally dull newspapers fun to read and TV news broadcasts fun to watch, and few of us would deny there are days when we love it. Hes been at his best when hes come in from the outside: starting Sky News, which shook up a complacent British broadcasting establishment; contradicting conventional American media wisdom that a fourth TV network (Fox) could never get off the ground; reducing the power of Britains printing trade unions that were exercising a stranglehold on the U.K. press.

But Murdoch and his global media empire have a lot to answer for. He has not merely encouraged the metastasis of cutthroat tabloid journalism on both sides of the Atlantic. But perhaps just as troubling, authorities in Britain may respond to popular outrage at the scandal by imposing the kind of regulations that cannot help but undermine a truly free press.

The events of recent days are a watershed for Britain, for the United States, and for Rupert Murdoch. Tabloid journalismand our tabloid culturemay never be the same.

Bernsteins most recent book is A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Correction: This article initially described News of the World as a daily paper.

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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John O'Connor: The suspects are in charge of the case

News International and the Metropolitan Police are looking into corruption at Wapping. But face-saving is their priority

The Independent

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Scotland Yard is facing its worst corruption crisis since the 1970s, when senior police officers were found to be controlling London's pornography industry. The investigation and subsequent purge left many detectives out of a job and in some case serving prison sentences. The gloom that surrounded the Yard in those days is similar to the atmosphere that pervades it today.

Each day reveals more details of misconduct by the press and the police. The investigation is going to be looking for heads to roll, and the higher the rank the better. This extraordinary state of affairs has its roots back in the Eighties, in the days when News International was dependent on the police to protect its new premises in Wapping.

Violent demonstrations occurred each night and the police were able to assist News International in getting its product out on to the streets. This was a complete turnaround for The Times newspaper, which only a decade earlier had launched the huge inquiry into police corruption that shook Scotland Yard to its foundations. News International was now best friends with Scotland Yard, and senior executives and top policemen wined and dined together on a regular basis.

Nobody could see the potential problems of a free lunch. This mutual admiration society worked very well for a time. Information passed freely both ways. The police benefited from undercover operations run by the newspapers, and in return the papers got their exclusive stories. This comfortable arrangement was cemented by regular briefings from Scotland Yard's press bureau to the national press directly and sometimes through the Crime Writers Association.

The culture of police officers mixing with journalists was encouraged, and little thought was given to the potential of misconduct. Crime writers were expected to know lots of police officers, and there was great competition to get the inside story. If only things could have stayed the same.

The News of the World began to pursue a strategy of aggressively targeting celebrities. The use of "the Fake Sheikh", Mazher Mahmood, was very effective, and produced some exclusive exposés on the greed and stupidity of people who should have known better. They were able to obtain confidential information on individuals including criminal records but they were in too much of a hurry to research public records.

Some private detective agencies realised that there was money to be earned from celebrity stories and confidential crime stories. Some of these detective agencies were run by former Metropolitan Police officers who maintained good contacts with serving officers. Some ex-police officers set themselves up as stringers, and provided a conduit for confidential information supplied by officers directly to the press. Once the Rubicon had been crossed, it was comparatively easy for police officers to contravene the Data Protection Act and supply information from the Police National Computer.

Short cuts adopted by the News of the World put them closer to the coalface. The strategy of using several intermediaries was abandoned and they employed private detectives such as Jonathan Rees of Southern Investigations and Glenn Mulcaire. This was clearly cheaper but the drawback was that if the private detectives came unstuck so did those who hired them.

The Department of Professional Standards at Scotland Yard has not been standing idly by. A number of undercover operations were mounted against ex- and serving police officers who were suspected of receiving corrupt payments. Nobody in authority was prepared to recognise the endemic nature of this corruption and each case was dealt with as a stand-alone incident. Much the same attitude was adopted when Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman were convicted of hacking messages of members of the royal family.

At this stage, the number of police officers involved is unknown. News International's attempts to switch the focus of the inquiry onto the police by releasing details of payments to officers raised more questions than answers. The obvious questions are "What about payments to intermediaries?" and "What were the payments for?" Hospitality and gifts must also be probed.

The two organisations that are carrying out the investigations are... the Metropolitan Police and News International, both of whom are the subject of these allegations.

It is with breathtaking cheek that News International announced its own investigation. It is quite clear that getting to the truth is not a goal, its real objective is damage limitation and face-saving. It is quite clear that any number of junior staff will be sacrificed in order the save the skins of the real decision-makers. The News International investigation should be laughed out of court, not that it is ever likely to get there.

The new police investigation is even more curious. Everybody wants to know why the original hacking investigation was curtailed after the convictions of Mulcaire and Goodman. It seems unlikely that this decision was made solely by the police, but it is a possibility, and if so, why?

The suspicion must be that pressure was brought to bear by either News International, the Crown Prosecution Service or a very high-ranking police officer, or perhaps a combination of all three.

The new police investigation into hacking has been running since January 2011 and the police corruption enquiry has only just begun. It seems to me that this is a classic situation whereby an outside police force should be used, under the supervision of the Independent Police Complaints Commission. There is clear precedent for using an outside force, and if the public are to be convinced that this is a fair and unbiased investigation then that should clearly point to using an independent force outside of London.

This is no reflection on the skill, determination or ability of Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, but the pressure which killed off the first enquiry might still exist.

The Metropolitan Police had one go at this and fell very short. At risk is the reputation and integrity of the service. It cannot afford to get it wrong again. The problem is that senior officers did not recognise the extent of the corruption and were probably unwilling to upset their new found pals in the media.

They must accept their responsibility for what has happened. It is astonishing that with so many resources being spent on anti-corruption, they could not see it when it was right under their noses.

John O'Connor is former commander of the Flying Squad at Scotland Yard

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Costigan Commission Going After Kerry Packer

Australia-073010L_7.jpg?1294096892 G'day punters, casino and gambling millionaires and billionaires, media magnates, journalists, legal eagles, Big Brother...one and all. Yes, today we bring you a special Kerry Packer tax history special. The legend lives on, but today its not a Kerry Packer artistic endeavor. No, that was last month. We're on the hard nosed issue of tax and political 'fun and games'. There's also a tie in with the Costigan Commission. No, different "Costigan" that the one most readers will be familiar with! In the meantime 'Our James' (James Packer) continues to fly the flag and do the family legacy proud with his Crown Limited empire. Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com and Gambling911 present The Kerry Packer taxing report...

The senior legal eagle, a barrister no less, who assisted the Costigan royal commission has now revealed that apparently a 'brief for prosecution' was at the ready to fire all guns blazing against Kerry Packer for tax evasion.

Could this all just be an attempt at positive PR for the Australian Tax Office and the Aussie government in general? Folks, you will just have to keep reading won't you, and after that you might be in the mood to spin to win on Cleo or The Godfather hey.

Three wise men...yes, three of the senior barristers aka 'wigs' recommended prosecution. Were they just trying to get even on a "rich bastard"? (KP).

Speaking to the hard core release of the said documents relating to the establishment of the Painters and Dockers royal commission some 3 decades ago, Doug Meagher QC (Queens Council) told Rupert Murdoch's News Limited "I had no doubt that the allegations against Packer called for very serious investigation. Very much so."

It was on site at KP's state memorial service at the Sydney Opera House in 2006, his son, James, described the Costigan commission as the darkest chapter in his father's life. His father had never forgiven Costigan and "nor could we".

The quite public slanging match and occasional war of worlds, with a dash of media war, has survived the death of both Packer, in December 2005, and Costigan, in April 2009.

Meagher has now disclosed that briefs for prosecution were prepared against Packer in relation to tax evasion after the commission was closed and what would have seemed to be dead and buried, so to speak.

Costigan had told him 3 "very senior counsel" based in 'Sin City' Sydney "each looked at them independently and recommended prosecution, but it didn't occur".

"Packer was a man of great influence," Meagher said. "He wasn't cleared. Not at all."

After JP (James Packer) attacked Costigan, Meagher advised him against responding. "I certainly wouldn't have. I would have just ignored the attack."

The quite sensational allegations were the gold nuggets in a report for the incoming National Crime Authority circa 1984, in which Costigan provided case summaries of many, perhaps dozens we understand, incomplete investigations, code-naming the targets!

One concerned Packer, code-named the Squirrel. It linked Australia's richest man to tax evasion, drug trafficking, pornography and a murder.

The sensational report was leaked to the now defunct Fairfax owned National Times, which published it in full in September 1984, only changing the code-name to "the Goanna" (no, not squirrel). Oh, animal lovers, do check out our feature on gambling animals, birds and other wildlife from the past few months, but on with the story at hand.

It was under massive speculation, Packer identified himself as "the Goanna" and his lawyer, a young Malcolm 'No Bull' Turnbull, wrote up an 8000-word public denial, naming the "gutter allegations" as "grotesque, ludicrous and malicious".

KP had become a prime target with neon bulls eye of the commission in October 1983 over $225,000 grand he had secured from Surfers Paradise property developer tycoon Brian 'Rich' Ray some 3 years prior.

Ray had caught a flight to 'Sin' Sydney to hand Packer a modest $50,000 grand in hold hard cash, while his biz partner Ian Beames had dropped off payments of $100,000 grand and another $75k. Pretty fantastic hey.

Packer later advised the commission he'd had a quite a bad day at the races and Ray, who at the time was in a bankruptcy arrangement with his creditors, had offered to lend him the money.

Quizzed why he wanted it in cash, Packer replied..."I wanted it in cash because I like cash. I have a squirrel-like mentality."

Ray and Beames were later charged, along with a number others, of conspiring to defraud the commonwealth of $16 mill in so called "bottom of the harbour" tax schemes, Australia's biggest tax evasion racket in history. Beames pleaded guilty. Ray, who died in a plane crash in July 2005, was acquitted in March 1987.

He celebrated and threw a hell of a party on the Gold Coast attended by the whose who...Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, businessman John 'Singo' Singleton and Kerry Packer, where Sir Joh wanted folks to know his thoughts with his announcement "I have always been proud to have Brian as a friend and to know he is on my team."

Federal attorney-general Lionel Bowen told the parliament there was no basis to justify any charges against Packer, who was "entitled to be regarded by his fellow citizens as unsullied by the allegations and insinuations which have been made against him".

A touch odd, the Fraser government established the Costigan commission after a series of articles about murders on the Sydney waterfront in Packer's now defunct ACP (Australian Consolidated Press) magazine The Bulletin aka 'The Bully', and a tad of extra coverage in Playboy. Well, they say folks buy it for the articles, and maybe they are right.

Folks, stay tuned for more on the life of times of the late, great, Kerry Packer. Hell of a nice and smart bloke our late mate Tim 'Earthquake' Bristow told me, but as they say, "dead men don't tell tales". We know you'll be glued to this dial as more of the 'Real Life Underbelly' true tales of 'Sin City' Sydney continue to be dug up.

Wrap Up...

Readers... er, punters, how did you like The Kerry Packer Tax Special? Tell us in the forum.

If you have a bet, please bet with your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming and offer political commentary and analysis.

*The writer owns shares in Crown Limited

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Dow Jones chief under hacking pressure

By Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in New York, Abeer Allam in Riyadh and Elizabeth Rigby in London

Financial Times

July 10, 2011

Les Hinton, chief executive of Dow Jones, is being blamed by people close to News Corp, for failing to get to grips with the News of the World phone hacking scandal when he was in charge of Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper group.

Mr Hinton, a loyal Murdoch employee for 52 years who had been expected to retire next year, could become the most senior casualty of the crisis, his friends fear, deflecting blame from James Murdoch, who runs News Corp’s European operations, and Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, which publishes Mr Murdoch’s UK papers.

“Les [Hinton] will be sacrificed to save James and Rebekah,” one person familiar with the company said. “It happened on Les’s watch,” another added: “James was not even a director of News Corp at the time.”

Rupert Murdoch, who arrived in London on Sunday to take charge of the crisis, is facing growing political opposition to his bid for full control of British Sky Broadcasting, but received critical support from News Corp’s largest non-family shareholder.

“This is the time for a loyal shareholder to stand by his friends and allies, the Murdoch family,” Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holdings, which owns 7 per cent of the company, told the Financial Times.

“This is a strong alliance. We do not chicken out when we face crisis; we get stronger,“ he said, adding that Mr Murdoch, his son James and Chase Carey, chief operating officer, made “an excellent trio” of managers. He added that he had urged Mr Murdoch for “a dramatic and fast decision” to end the News of the World “mini crisis” and focus on securing BSkyB.

The backing came as David Cameron, the British prime minister, was scrambling to find a way to delay News Corp’s bid after Ed Miliband, the opposition Labour leader, announced Labour would call a parliamentary vote on the matter.

The move was supported by some leading Liberal Democrats, who govern in coalition with Mr Cameron’s Conservatives.

Mr Hinton “has questions to answer” about what he originally reassured a parliamentary committee had been a rigorous internal inquiry in 2007, people close to News Corp said.

That inquiry had involved Colin Myler, editor of the News of the World, Daniel Cloke, News International’s former head of human resources, Tom Crone, general counsel for the News of the World, and Harbottle & Lewis, the law firm, they said.

Mr Hinton declined requests for comment. Mr Hinton may not have seen all the evidence he needed to see in 2007, one person familiar with News International’s new internal inquiry said. Police are expected to ask some News International executives this week to give witness statements. News International had no comment.

Mr Murdoch drove into News International’s Wapping offices for a series of meetings reading the final edition of the News of the World. He was later photographed with his arm around Ms Brooks, telling Reuters she was his first priority before dining with her.

Keith Vaz, home affairs select committee chairman, said John Yates, Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner, would appear before MPs on Tuesday.

Additional reporting by Ben Fenton and Salamander Davoudi in London

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