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Rupert Murdoch and the Corruption of the British Media

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Phone hacking investigation: Senior Met officer April Casburn jailed for bid to sell data to New of the World

By Margaret Davis

The Independent

Friday, 1 February 2013

A senior counter-terrorism detective who is the first person to be convicted under the fresh investigations into corruption and phone hacking has been jailed for 15 months.

Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn was sentenced at the Old Bailey today for misconduct in public office for offering to sell information to the News of the World (NoTW).

Mr Justice Fulford told her it was "a corrupt attempt to make money out of sensitive and potentially very damaging information".

Casburn, 53, is currently in the process of adopting a child, and the judge said had that not been the case he would have sentenced her to three years.

He said her offence could not be described as whistleblowing, and went on: "If the News of the World had accepted her offer, it's clear, in my view, that Ms Casburn would have taken the money and, as a result, she posed a significant threat to the integrity of this important police investigation."

The judge went on: "Activity of this kind is deeply damaging to the administration of criminal justice in this country. It corrodes the public's faith in the police force, it can lead to the acquittal or the failure by the authorities to prosecute individuals who have committed offences whether they are serious or otherwise.

"We are entitled to expect the very highest standards of probity from our police officers, particularly those at a senior level.

"It is, in my judgment, a very serious matter indeed when men or women who have all the benefits, privileges and responsibilities of public office use their position for corrupt purposes."

He said he was particularly concerned about Casburn's child, and admitted that her absence while she is in prison could be damaging.

But he said that, had she not been arrested, the detective would have returned to work by now, and therefore the child would be cared for by others anyway.

Casburn, from Hatfield Peverel in Essex, called the NotW news desk on September 11 2010, and spoke to journalist Tim Wood about the fresh investigation into phone hacking.

She claimed she contacted the tabloid because she was concerned about counter-terror resources being wasted on the phone-hacking inquiry, which her colleagues saw as "a bit of a jolly".

The detective denied asking for money, but Mr Wood had made a note that she "wanted to sell inside information".

Today Mr Justice Fulford said: "It seems to me Mr Wood was a reliable, honest and disinterested witness.

"He took time and trouble during the defendant's call to find out exactly what Miss Casburn was saying, questioning the defendant in detail on her account in order to make an accurate note for his superiors at the News of the World which he wrote up in detail immediately afterwards.

"He had absolutely no reason to lie and every cause to be cautious given the risk that the newspaper was to be the victim of a sting, as he suspected."

During her trial at Southwark Crown Court last month, Casburn likened the male-dominated counter-terrorism unit to the TV series Life On Mars.

She was not given a desk for several months, despite more junior colleagues having them, jurors were told.

But the judge rejected this as an explanation for her behaviour.

He said: "It seems to me this is a straightforward but troubling case of corruption.

"I decline to accept that she had significant difficulties working with her male colleagues in the senior ranks of the counter-terrorism unit, which in part she said led her to act as she did.

"The most that could be said is that she was a relative newcomer to this area of police work. As a result she may have felt something of an outsider."

But he said this "could not begin to explain the actions of a detective chief inspector who offers to the very newspaper which is the subject of a sensitive and confidential investigation by other officers to sell details of the progress of the inquiry and the strategy that officers were intending to follow".

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News International rushes to settle phone-hacking claims ahead of hearing

Publisher of now-defunct News of the World attempts to close down scandal before court hearing as new claims are launched

By Lisa O'Carroll

Guardian (U.K.)

Wednesday 6 February 2013 12.21 EST

Rupert Murdoch's News International is making a concerted effort to close down the News of the World phone-hacking saga, agreeing out-of-court settlements on 143 of 165 outstanding civil damages cases it is facing in the high court ahead of a key hearing before a judge on Friday.

However, lawyers acting for alleged phone-hacking victims say News International will be unable to finally draw a line under the scandal, as police are still in the process of informing victims.

At least eight new claims are being prepared for Mr Justice Vos's court hearing on Friday, including cases brought by former Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordan, the mobile-phone millionaire who bought the club in 2000 and remained chairman until it went into administration in 2010.

Jordan's action has just been lodged in the high court along with a case brought by Nigel Lythgoe, the British TV producer behind American Idol, and former assistant chief constable at South Yorkshire police Steve Chamberlain.

One lawyer working on behalf of victims said News International was "throwing money" at claimants in a hope of persuading victims to drop their lawsuits ahead of Friday's case management conference before Vos and clean the slate for the company.

News International is understood to have been notified in total of 701 claims since the first action was launched by Sienna Miller back in 2010, but not all victims are going through the high court.

More than 250 have opted to enter into an alternative £20m compensation scheme set up by News International, but earlier this week the publisher of the now-defunct News of the World informed lawyers it was closing this down in April.

The decision to close the compensation scheme, which was launched in 2011, has raised concerns with lawyers who are acting for victims who have just been told by police their phones have been hacked.

Steven Heffer, solicitor at Collyer Bristow, who is acting for 80 individuals seeking damages through the News International compensation scheme, said: "It is a very strong signal that News International are trying to close this down very swiftly. This will cause a big problem because there are more claims around from people who have just been told by police their phones had been hacked. They are trying to put a lid on something that is still popping out of the box."

He said that News International has also changed the rules on the scheme and is even challenging those who have been informed by the Metropolitan police that their voicemails were hacked by the News of the World.

"People who would have expected they had a prima facie case are now finding their cases contested on the grounds of lack of evidence, but that's because they haven't had disclosure from the police yet and they may not get it before the April deadline. That means their only option is to go to the high court which is more expensive," said Heffer.

Heffer, who acted for Meg Matthews in the first batch of civil phone-hacking damages claims settled in the high court in early 2012, said he has at least another 20 claims heading for the compensation scheme.

Vos has already said he does not want to see a third tranche of claims and is expected to seek an update from News International at the hearing on Friday.

A spokesman for News International said: "We have been keen from the beginning to settle these cases with minimum delay and minimum stress for all involved."

MediaGuardian reported that News International had agreed to settle 130 of the high court claims in early January, including cases brought by Cherie Blair, David Beckham's father and James Nesbitt.

But now it has made 13 more settlements, including deals struck with actor Christopher Eccleston and Uri Geller, who suspects he was hacked because of his friendship with pop star Michael Jackson.

One source said that at least seven of the high court claimants, including Tony Woodley, the former joint general secretary of the Unite union, are adamant that they want their case to go to trial. And at least one claim, that brought by Mary Ellen Field, the former adviser to model Elle Macpherson, is being contested by News International, which has made an application to have her case struck out.

Statements from at least 15 claimants are expected to be read out in the high court on Friday, but the exact size of the settlements are not expected to be revealed.

This will be unlike the scenes of pandemonium in the high court last January when dozens of solicitors, claimants and journalist piled into court to hear News International lawyers make 37 humiliating apologies to individuals including Jude Law, who received a £130,000 settlement, former Labour deputy leader Lord Prescott (£40,000), Labour MPs Chris Bryant (£30,000) and Denis MacShane (£32,500), Welsh rugby union international Gavin Henson (£40,000), designer Sadie Frost (£50,000) and Prince Harry's friend Guy Pelly (£40,000).

The majority of claimants in the second tranche of actions being managed by Vos have opted for privacy and do not want statements in open court. Among those who do want the settlement and apology on the public record are actor Hugh Grant, Geller and Eccleston.

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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Sarah Ferguson's phone was hacked for six years by News of the World, court hears.

The Duchess of York's mobile phone was hacked for six years by the News of the World, a court was told today, as she and 143 other hacking victims accepted damages from News International.

By Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter

The Telegraph

11:46AM GMT 08 Feb 2013

The Doctor Who actor Christopher Eccleston, spoon-bender Uri Geller, actor Hugh Grant and Colin Stagg, who was wrongly accused of the murder of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common, have also settled their claims.

It means that 450 people have now settled claims through the High Court, with more than 250 others being given payouts via a compensation scheme set up by NI.

Mr Justice Vos was told that the 144 victims who have settled in recent months include the singers James Blunt and Kerry Katona and the former paymaster-general, Geoffrey Robinson.

Statements on behalf of 17 of the victims were read out to the High Court in London, but no details of the size of most of the compensation payments were given. The rest of the claimants did not want statements read out in open court.

The Duchess of York's barrister David Sherborne told Mr Justice Vos: "During the period from 2000 until 2006 the claimant experienced unusual activity on her mobile phone.

"The claimant also noticed that journalists and/or photographers appeared to know her location in advance, meaning that when she arrived at functions or planned events, it was often the case that journalists or photographers were already present."

She commenced proceedings last year for "misuse of private information, breach of confidence and harassment in respect of the interception of her telephone messages".

Mr Sherbourne told the court that the Duchess was "targeted" and voicemail messages on her mobile phone "were intercepted for the News of the World over a considerable period of time".

He added: "I am here today to announce that News Group Newspapers [the division of NI that published the News of the World] has accepted liability and agreed to pay damages to the claimant plus her legal costs."

Paul Tweed, the Duchess's solicitor, said she had been given "a significant payment" in damages and costs, but added: "Notwithstanding this successful outcome, my client remains extremely concerned that questions beyond the scope of these legal proceedings still need to be answered in relation to other instances of inappropriate and extreme intrusion into her private life."

Anthony Hudson, for NGN, told the judge: "NGN is here today through me to offer its sincere apologies to the claimant for the damage and the distress caused to her by the accessing of her voicemail messages and obtaining confidential information.

"NGN acknowledges that the information should never have been obtained unlawfully in the manner in which it was, and that NGN is liable for misuse of private information and breach of confidence."

Jeff Brazier, who fathered two children during his relationship with the reality TV star Jade Goody, who died of cancer in 2009, had argued with her over material they thought had been leaked to the News of the World when in fact it had been obtained through hacking.

The court was told that he was "very distressed that he can now never apologise to Ms Goody for the times that he did not believe her despite her denials that she was the source of particular private information in the public domain".

Also among the 144 victims who settled today are Cherie Blair, the actor James Nesbitt and David Beckham's father.

Others who settled were one or two steps removed from celebrities in which the News of the World was interested, such as Charlotte Church's priest and Edwina Pitt, who worked in a Mayfair gallery whose clients included Jeffrey Archer.

Hugh Grant's advocate Mark Thomson said the actor had been "distressed to learn that he had wrongly mistrusted and avoided certain friends and acquaintances in the past", suspecting them of leaking information to the News of the World, "and would never find out the full extent of the defendant's misuse of his private information".

He will make a donation to Hacked Off, the non-profit organisation campaigning to clean up the media, from his settlement.

Eccleston's voicemail was hacked 16 times in 2005 and 2006 and was "deeply angry and upset" that the News of the World had destroyed documents that would have revealed the full extent of the intrusion.

James Blunt, a former soldier, was "shocked" to discover his phone had been hacked while he was in contact with serving members of the armed forces on duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Colin Stagg received £15,500 damages plus costs after his voicemails were intercepted and his medical records obtained through "blagging".

A further 25 cases, some of which were only launched in recent weeks, remain outstanding, including seven cases that will go to trial if the complainants do not reach agreements with NI.

All of the victims had voicemails intercepted by journalists or private detectives working for the News of the World, which closed in 2011 as a result of the scandal.

NI is desperate to draw a line under the affair, but fresh claims are still being launched by victims who have only recently been told by police that their phones were hacked.

Among the most recently-launched claims are law suits launched by Nigel Lythgoe, the TV producer, and Simon Jordan, the former owner of Crystal Palace FC.

NI also faces the prospect of a costly and drawn-out trial if it cannot reach an agreement with the seven victims who have so far refused to settle. Tony Woodley, the former joint general secretary of the Unite union, is one of the seven.

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Phone hacking: two current Sun staff among six new arrests

Officers from Metropolitan police's Operation Weeting detain former News of the World journalists in new line of inquiry

By Lisa O'Carroll and Josh Halliday

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 13 February 2013 05.34 EST

Six former News of the World journalists, two of whom now work for the Sun, have been arrested by Scotland Yard officers investigating a new line of inquiry in relation to phone hacking.

In a dramatic new twist to the phone-hacking scandal on Wednesday morning, the Metropolitan police said in a statement that it had identified a further suspected conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages by three men and three women that is alleged to have taken place between 2005 and 2006.

All of them are journalists or former journalists, the Met said, and all but one of them were detained in London.

Those arrested were a 46-year-old man in Wandsworth, a 45-year-old man in Wandsworth, a 39-year-old man in Greenwich, a 39-year-old woman in Cheshire, a 33-year-old woman in Islington and a 40-year-old woman in Lambeth.

They are being interviewed at police stations in London and Cheshire and their homes are being searched.

"Detectives on Operation Weeting have identified a further suspected conspiracy to intercept telephone voicemails by a number of employees who worked for the now defunct News of the World newspaper," the Met said.

The Met added that the alleged victims of the hacking were not previously notified, confirming that it was "part of the new lines of inquiry".

"In due course officers will be making contact with people they believe have been victims of the suspected voicemail interceptions," the Met said.

None of those arrested have been arrested before.

Mike Darcey, chief executive of Sun publisher News International, emailed staff to confirm the arrests. He told colleagues: "As always, I share your concerns about these arrests and recognise the huge burden it places on our journalists in the daily challenge of producing Britain's most popular newspaper. I am extremely grateful to all of you who succeed in that mission despite these very challenging circumstances."

More details soon ....

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Ex-News of the World executive Neil Wallis

By Alice Philipson

The Telegraph

1:15PM GMT 22 Feb 2013

Neil Wallis will not face prosecution because there is insufficient evidence, prosecutors said.

On Friday morning he said on Twitter: "After 21 months of hell for my family, CPS have just told my solicitors that there will be no prosecution of me re my phone-hacking arrest."

Mr Wallis, 60, worked at the News International title for six years between 2003 and 2009. He was arrested in July 2011 in a raid on his home in West London.

He was questioned at Hammersmith police station and has been bailed and then rebailed several times since.

Prosecutors said today that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against a journalist arrested under Operation Weeting.

A statement said: "Having carefully considered the matter, the CPS has concluded that there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction in relation to that journalist."

Mr Wallis became the paper's executive editor in 2007 under editor Colin Myler.

Before that he worked as editor of the People for five years from 1998 and held a number of senior positions at News International including deputy editor of the Sun.

After leaving the newspaper industry he went on to work for the entertainment PR firm the Outside Organisation in 2009.

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Phone hacking: News of the World journalist says police must speed up decision on charges

A former senior journalist at the News of the World who was arrested as part of the phone hacking investigation has criticised the length of time it took police to decide whether or not to charge him.

By Ben Leach

10:18AM GMT 23 Feb 2013

The Telegraph

Neil Wallis, a former deputy editor at the newspaper, was told on Friday he will face no action over the allegations – almost two years after he was arrested.

The Crown Prosecution Service said there was “insufficient evidence” to bring charges against him.

Speaking on the Radio 4 Today programme he said: “The next two years [after my arrest] were a terrible ordeal for my family.

“I think that they [the police] were under tremendous political pressure to make an arrest. I think something has to be questioned. We’re not bank robbers, we’re not rapists, we’re not murderers."

Mr Wallis, nicknamed criticised the length of time he was kept on bail and said the police should have made a decision whether or not to charge him earlier.

“21 months is an awful long time. There should be a cut off point. There are 60 journalists under arrest at the moment – more journalists than are under arrest in Iran.”

After learning he will face no charges he said on Twitter: "After 21 months of hell for my family, CPS have just told my solicitors that there will be no prosecution of me re my phone-hacking arrest."

Mr Wallis, 62, worked at the News International title for six years between 2003 and 2009. He was arrested in July 2011 in a raid on his home in West London.

He was arrested at the height of the phone scandal after it emerged Sir Paul Stephenson, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, had hired him as a PR consultant.

A spokeswoman for the CPS said: “Having carefully considered the matter, the Crown Prosecution Service has concluded that there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction in relation to [Mr Wallis].”

So far, 26 people have been arrested as part of Operation Weeting, Scotland Yard's investigation into illegal access to voicemails, and another six as part of a separate line of inquiry that came out of the probe.

Of those, eight are facing charges over an alleged phone hacking conspiracy – ex-News International chief executive.

They are ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, former news editor Greg Miskiw, former head of news Ian Edmondson, ex-chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck and former reporter James Weatherup.

Brooks is also accused along with six other people of perverting the course of justice in relation to Operation Weeting. This is over an alleged conspiracy to withhold material from police.

Brooks, 44, her husband Charlie, 49, her former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, head of security at News International Mark Hanna, Brooks's chauffeur Paul Edwards and security staff Daryl Jorsling and Lee Sandell are all accused of perverting the course of justice.

They are all due to face trial later in the year.

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Phone hacking: Rupert Murdoch hit by 600 fresh claims

Suspect turned informant gives new evidence to Met before parliament vote on newspaper

By Lisa O'Carroll, Patrick Wintour, Josh Halliday

The Guardian, Friday 15 March 2013 17.36 EDT

Detectives are examining an estimated 600 fresh allegations of phone-hacking incidents at Rupert Murdoch's now closed News of the World on the back of fresh evidence obtained by the Metropolitan police from a suspect turned supergrass.

Further details are expected to emerge on Monday morning at the high court during a hearing relating to the existing litigation by hacking victims against Murdoch's News International (NI) – hours before MPs are due to vote on joint Labour and Liberal Democrat amendments that would introduce a backstop law to stiffen regulation of the press.

Sources say Scotland Yard detectives believe they can identify as many as 600 new incidents after obtaining the phone records of an insider who is now being lined up as a crown witness. As a result of the new information, the force's Operation Weeting is revisitng the timetable for concluding its investigation, which had been due to be completed with the conclusion of trials this year. Police now expect their work to continue into 2015.

The 600 new potential litigants fall into three groups: new victims; others who sued over hacking but signed agreements with NI allowing them to sue the company again; and a third group who signed agreements potentially barring them from suing again. The indications are that there may be "some hundreds of new legal actions" from the first two groups.

On Monday the high court will hear formally of at least a dozen settlements out of the 167 civil claims filed last autumn from individuals including Cherie Blair and David Beckham's father, Ted. Blair was one of 170 victims who chose to sue in the high court instead of going through the NI private scheme, which has so far accepted 254 compensation claims.

More than 250 people have sued NI including Jude Law, Sienna Miller and Charlotte Church after they were told by police they were targeted by the paper but the opening of a second line of inquiry into activities at the paper will be a fresh nightmare for Murdoch and NI executives who are busy trying to rebuild the reputation of the company before a demerger of the parent company, News Corp, in June.

Last month there was a fresh wave of arrests of former NoW executives, believed to have been prompted by the new evidence. Three men and three women were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept telephone communications between 2005 and 2006.

Information from the same supergrass also led to the arrests on Thursday of the former editor of the Sunday Mirror, Tina Weaver, and three other former colleagues who were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to hack phones. On Friday, Richard Wallace, former editor of the Daily Mirror and Weaver's partner, was interviewed by police under caution as the crisis at the Mirror Group spread. Scotland Yard said Wallace was not arrested. So far eight former NoW staff, including former editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, face charges in relation to allegations of conspiring to hack phones.

The revelations come at the worst possible time for David Cameron as he prepares to battle in parliament to protect the newspaper industry from what he fears is excessive state-backed regulation. MPs and peers are due on Monday to debate legal changes designed to tighten media self-regulation and ensure it is placed on a permanent basis. Labour and the Lib Dems are hoping to defeat the Conservatives with their proposals to introduce a law to strengthen the power of a watchdog to audit the work of a reformed Press Complaints Commission.

Cameron is not currently due to speak in the Commons debate, since the reforms come in the shape of amendments to the crime and courts bill. But the prime minister will face Ed Miliband across the dispatch box during a statement after the conclusion of the European council summit of EU leaders, and may yet be asked by the Speaker to make a Commons statement on why on Thursday he decided to pull the plug on all-party talks to introduce a new system of press regulation.

Cameron is likely to lose, raising questions about his authority and judgment. There were still hopes that he would seek a last-minute deal. Harriet Harman, shadow culture secretary, said: "I hope that even before we get to Monday we will get that cross-party agreement." Aides to Nick Clegg said he was not planning to talk to Cameron before Monday about press regulation, saying his efforts were focused on securing as large a vote as possible amongMPs for a tough system of regulation. Clegg insisted the issue should be seen as above party politics.

Miliband said: "The royal charter we propose would create a new independent voluntary system of self-regulation for the press. It has a code setting out the high ethical standards of the best in British journalism, a complaints procedure which is easily accessible and fair, and real teeth to ensure protection and redress for citizens."

Earlier, Cameron welcomed the move by the other parties towards accepting a royal charter, rather than passing legislation to create a new regulator. He said it was now essential that the matter was brought to a head and could no longer be allowed to "hijack" the rest of the Government's legislative programme.

News International had no comment on allegations of a second hacking operation at the NoW.

It said it still planned to close its compensation scheme, but would continue to consider "meritorious claims".

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Bribery Allegations Surfaced Against WSJ in China


The Wall Street Journal

March 17, 2013


The Justice Department last year opened an investigation into allegations that employees at The Wall Street Journal's China news bureau bribed Chinese officials for information for news articles.

A search by the Journal's parent company found no evidence to support the claim, according to government and corporate officials familiar with the case.

The U.S. government, meanwhile, is nearing the end of a broader investigation of the Journal's owner News Corp NWSA -0.95%. stemming from allegations of phone hacking and bribery at U.K. tabloids, among other issues, according to people familiar with the case.

During the course of that broader probe, the Justice Department approached News Corp.'s outside counsel in early 2012 and said it had received information from a person it described as a whistleblower who claimed one or more Journal employees had provided gifts to Chinese government officials in exchange for information, according to people familiar with the case.

News Corp. and the Journal don't know the identity of the informant, company officials say, and government officials wouldn't discuss such details. It isn't clear whether the person worked inside the Journal and whether the informant provided names of alleged bribers.

According to U.S. and corporate officials, News Corp. has told the Justice Department that some company officials suspect the informant was an agent of the Chinese government, seeking to disrupt and possibly retaliate against the Journal for its reporting on China's leadership. The company officials came to that view after finding no evidence of the alleged bribery and because of the timing and nature of the accusations, company officials say. It isn't clear what, if any, evidence the company officials have for that claim, which reporters for this article couldn't independently verify.

A spokesman at the Chinese embassy in Washington didn't respond to messages seeking comment.

Government officials familiar with the probe declined to say what they made of the company's claim. A person close to the company said the alleged China matter hasn't been raised by U.S. investigators in some time, but wasn't more specific. It isn't clear if the Justice Department considers the matter resolved or still open.

Paula Keve, a spokeswoman for News Corp.'s Dow Jones unit, which publishes the Journal, said in a written statement: "After a thorough review of our operations in China conducted by outside lawyers and auditors, we have not found any evidence of impropriety at Dow Jones."

The informant's accusations about the Journal related to reporting activity in Chongqing, the power base of disgraced Chinese official Bo Xilai, and covered previous Journal reporting in China, according to government and corporate officials. To check the claims, investigators examined activity reaching back at least five years, they said.

Mr. Bo, from his seat in Chongqing, was a powerful and rising figure in China until a scandal involving the poisoning death of a British associate led to his downfall and the criminal prosecution of his wife.

In March 2012, the Journal published an article detailing the questions surrounding the British man's death, and how the scandal was fueling a power struggle within China's political leadership. Other articles followed about the wealth and corruption behind the private lives of some Chinese leaders.

The Chinese bribery allegations against the Journal arose around the time that U.S. and Dow Jones officials believed Chinese hackers were targeting Dow Jones's computer systems, according to people familiar with the matter. That is one reason company officials say they suspected the informant's actions were part of a broader attack on the paper.

Federal investigators probing the Dow Jones computer hacking concluded it was carried out by people with links to China's government, apparently to snoop on articles the paper was writing about its political leadership, according to government and company officials.

An array of Western companies has been targeted by Chinese hackers in recent years, including recently some U.S. media firms such as New York Times Co. NYT -0.60%The Obama administration has stepped up its calls on China to curtail such activity.

In a statement, Dow Jones Editor in Chief and Journal Managing Editor Gerard Baker called the newspaper's China reporting "exemplary and unrivaled" and added: "Our journalists, often working in the most difficult circumstances, will never be deterred from shining light on the darker recesses of Chinese society and politics."

If the Chinese bribery allegations were true, such behavior would be a potential violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. That law, commonly referred to as FCPA, was the principal basis for the U.S. opening its initial investigation of News Corp.'s activities in the U.K. and elsewhere. The law makes it illegal for companies with sizable American operations to offer money or gifts to foreign-government officials to gain a business advantage.

The allegations of gifts in China went beyond the typical meals or drinks shared by reporters and officials and included lavish entertainment and travel, according to people familiar with the matter.

Over the past decade, the Justice Department has more aggressively pursued companies with U.S. operations suspected of bribing foreign officials. In 2012, the Justice Department announced 13 FCPA-related settlements or court charges. A decade earlier, there were four.

In FCPA cases, unlike almost any other criminal probe, companies under investigation are required to do the bulk of the detective work themselves, typically by hiring an outside law firm. In the Journal case, after the Justice Department presented the informant's allegations, the company and outside investigators began going through its own accounts seeking evidence to corroborate the informant's claims, according to government and company officials. Finding none, the company notified the government it couldn't confirm the claims, the people said.

The investigation comprised audits and records searches.

According to officials, the informant then gave the Justice Department a similar set of allegations about a different set of company expenses in China. News Corp. looked into this second set of claims, and again found nothing, those people said.

Since 2011, the Justice Department has been overseeing a criminal investigation of News Corp. relating to revelations that its British papers hacked phones and bribed public officials to get information for articles. Almost two years later, that probe is nearing completion, government and company officials said, setting the stage for settlement negotiations between the U.S. and News Corp.

News Corp., which has hired law firm Williams & Connolly to oversee the FCPA case, is expected to make its final presentation detailing the company's global bribery investigation to the Justice Department next month, according to people familiar with the matter.

It will be then up to the Justice Department to spell out what punishment or sanctions, if any, the agency wants, and at that point negotiations will likely begin. The Justice Department doesn't publicly discuss cases that close without charges filed.

Both sides expect an agreement would include a monetary settlement of some kind, based on the alleged violations in the U.K. The government has also investigated potential misconduct in the company's former Russian outdoor billboard subsidiary, according to people familiar with the case, specifically whether it paid bribes to local officials to approve sign placements in that country.

News Corp. said Thursday: "In regards to U.K. matters, we've delivered on our commitment to uncover wrongdoing and feel confident about the work we've done to put us on the right path, including sweeping changes to our global internal controls, compliance programs and ethics requirements." The company hasn't in the past commented on the Russia allegations. The Russian company, which has been sold by News Corp., has denied wrongdoing.

Several U.S. officials said senior Justice Department lawyers are increasingly skeptical any criminal charges would be filed against individuals at the company, although the investigation continues.

An investigation by British police has already led to criminal charges against reporters and editors, alleging that people working for News of the World and another News Corp. paper, the Sun, paid bribes to public officials for information. Many of those cases are still pending.

Write to Devlin Barrett at devlin.barrett@wsj.com and Evan Perez at evan.perez@wsj.com

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Deputy editor of Murdoch UK tabloid charged over payments

11:30am EDT

* Sun's deputy editor accused over cash to public officials

* Latest Murdoch executive to be charged

By Michael Holden

LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) - British police, investigating allegations of phone-hacking centred on Rupert Murdoch's newspapers, charged the deputy editor of his top-selling Sun tabloid on Wednesday with making illegal payments to public officials.

Geoff Webster is the latest senior figure from News International, the British newspaper arm of Murdoch's News Corp , to be accused of criminal offences in a scandal which has rocked the media mogul's empire and escalated into a crisis embroiling the entire industry and the political establishment.

Dozens of current and former staff from Murdoch's Sun and News of the World newspapers have been arrested by police since early 2011 when detectives re-launched an inquiry into allegations journalists had repeatedly hacked into voicemails of mobile phones to find exclusive stories.

Inquiries later were extended to cover allegations journalists paid cash to public officials in return for information.

Police and prosecutors said Webster, 53, would face two charges of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office, which related to payments of 6,500 pounds ($9,800) and 1,500 pounds made to two officials between July 2010 and August 2011.

Webster will appear at London's Westminster Magistrates' court on March 26. In an email to staff, News International's chief executive Mike Darcey said they would be supporting their "long-standing and valued colleague", during the legal process.

Revelations that phone-hacking extended from celebrities and politicians to crime victims, including murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, caused public outrage and led to Murdoch closing down the News of the World.

Prime Minister David Cameron's former media chief Andy Coulson, who was editor of the News of the World between 2003 and 2007, and Rebekah Brooks, the former boss of News International and a confidante of Murdoch, are among those charged with criminal offences.

News International has already paid out millions in compensation to victims, but in recent weeks the scandal has again risen to prominence.

Last month, detectives arrested six people as part of an investigation into a second hacking conspiracy at the News of the World, which lawyers said could result in hundreds of new compensation claims.

Earlier this week, News International also paid substantial damages and apologised after admitting journalists from the Sun had accessed private information from the mobile phone stolen from an opposition lawmaker.

That came on the day Britain's main political parties agreed to set up a new press regulator with the power to levy fines of up to 1 million pounds ($1.5 million) and oblige papers to print prominent apologies, after a public inquiry said a new system was needed in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.

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The New York Post: the game is up for Murdoch's plaything

Murdoch's once-mighty tabloid toy is out of time

By Michael Wolff

guardian.co.uk, Monday 15 April 2013 09.59 EDT

The power vacuum in New York City that will be left by Michael Bloomberg's departure from public office will likely be compounded by another unfillable hole: the loss of the New York Post.

The Post has been in business since 1801, and owned since 1976 by Rupert Murdoch (other than for a five-year hiatus when regulatory requirements forced him to sell the paper – that is, until he arranged to be exempted from those rules and buy it back). It's been Murdoch's money-losing personal instrument for all manner of trouble-making, political power-brokering, and punishment and reward. When it was not being bent to his personal will, it was to that of his editors, picking the paper's enemies and friends for both personal and institutional benefit.

To say the Post is self-serving would be beside the point. It is the last of the great bully-boy newspapers.

This joie de guerre has cost Murdoch as much as $80m a year in unstoppable losses – perhaps more than $1bn over 35 years.

Murdoch's attachment to the paper has long been more sentimental than strategic. Once, it was the seat of his power in the US, electing Ed Koch mayor and making Murdoch the most feared publisher in the nation. But that was decades ago.

Its truer recent purpose has been as a model for what he thinks newspapers ought to be: a semi-lawless, unrepentant, sometimes quite joyful agent of the carrot-and-stick of publicity. The Post newsroom has been his retreat in New York – a half-fantasy world where, when the burdens of running a big corporation and a fractious family became too much, he could repair.

I urged my daughter to try to work there after she finished college. There would not be an opportunity, I advised, to experience something like the Post much longer. Now, as Murdoch gets ready to separate his newspapers from his richer entertainment holdings in a move that will force the papers to pay their own way, the Post's day of reckoning nears.

The new newspaper company will be backed by a several billion-dollar dowry from the entertainment company, but that dough will be needed for cash flow-positive investments. The present assets, including the Wall Street Journal, more than 70 papers in Australia, and the Sun, the Times, and Sunday Times in London, will all need to become productive and ever-more-profitable members of the company. Many will struggle to get there.

There is, however, no scenario in which the Post will reach that point; there is no scenario in which, even with cuts, it doesn't keep losing more.

Murdoch himself, since has acquisition of the Wall Street Journal, in 2008, has reluctantly distanced himself from the Post, letting it become an increasingly sclerotic and gothic enterprise, full of aging figures. It's editor, Col Allan – an Australian of the Murdoch old school – has alternatively been trying to retire, or fighting efforts to make him retire, for half a decade. Its once-feared gossip columnist, Richard Johnson, long having forsaken a diligent day, is working out his rich contract in Los Angeles. Keith Kelly's column about print media, which, in its heyday held the city's media power brokers in its thrall (always a particular Murdoch goal), now reads more like the shipping news – with Kelly still one of Murdoch's highest paid reporters.

The hacking scandal in London has made the Post's characteristic behavior – its bar-tab relationship with the New York City police; the payoffs the paper has admitted taking (not least of all by Johnson for favorable Page Six coverage); and its standard operating procedure of pressuring its opponents with attacks in the paper – a red flag to the company's lawyers in New York. Indeed, Robert Thompson, the Wall Street Journal editor, who will be the CEO of the new newspaper company, is openly contemptuous of Col Allan and the paper's low-rent, cowboy atmosphere.

The paper's publisher is now Jesse Angelo, a high school friend of Murdoch's son James – and James' personal proxy on the Murdoch family trust. Angelo,whose own father is a significant investor in the Tribune Company, which owns the LA Times that Murdoch would like to buy – was the No 2 editor at the Post and long promised the No 1 job on Allan's retirement. Instead, reportedly eager to get out of the Post, he was moved to run Murdoch's tablet news project, the Daily.

When that failed, Angelo was moved back to the Post, over Allan, where, by all accounts, he is being warehoused for a top job at the new news company. (Angelo was a guest at Murdoch's 82nd birthday party last month – Allan was not.)

"If you have any juice inside of News Corp, you are negotiating yourself out of the Post," said a senior News Corp source last week.

The competition has not been kind, either. Where once the Post had only the less aggressive Daily News to consider in the tabloid world, now it is up against a free-form internet world of gossip, crime, and political coverage, as well as a local start-up, DNAinfo, comprising many former Post reporters, which regularly beats the Post on crime and political stories. And, as well, there is Wall Street Journal itself, with its metro section now competing with the Post for advertising.

Everything about the paper – advertising, circulation, staff, and even its once-outsized influence – has been shrinking. Inside News Corp, the strategy has long been described as "closing the Post without the old man having to admit that it's closed".

Still, it can yet rouse itself. It would be hard to imagine an Anthony Weiner running for mayor without the Post. And, reflecting Murdoch's views, the Post has recently become a loud, if peculiar, proponent of gun control laws.

But the end is surely here. It is just one more jarring adjustment for the 82-year-old Murdoch. The Post will not outlive him.

• Editor's note: the spelling of Col Allan's name was amended at 1.30pm ET on 15 April

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News Corp deal: a new way to police corporate political spending?



On Monday, the directors and officers of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp agreed to settle a derivative suit accusing them of breaching their duty to shareholders by failing to avert the phone-hacking scandal at the company's British newspapers. News Corp's insurers will pay $139 million, in what shareholder lawyers at Grant & Eisenhofer called the largest-ever cash settlement of derivative claims in Delaware Chancery Court. The settlement, which comes as News Corp prepares to split its news and entertainment branches into two publicly traded companies, was produced after several months of mediation that took place while the company's motion to dismiss was pending before Vice Chancellor John Noble.

The cash portion of the deal (which will be eventually reduced by legal fees paid to G&E, co-lead counsel from Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann and several other plaintiffs firms that managed to grab a piece of the case) is obviously the big news, but among the many corporate governance enhancements detailed in the memorandum of understanding between News Corp and shareholders, you'll find what appears to be a historic concession by the company: News Corp has agreed to disclose its campaign and political action committee contributions to shareholders and its lobbying and Super PAC spending to the board. According to two advocates for corporate political transparency, this settlement apparently marks the first time that shareholders have used the vehicle of a derivative suit to obtain enhanced disclosure of corporate political spending. "I think it's terrific," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). "Any way to force companies to disclose spending is good for democracy."

Earlier this year, you may recall, New York State's public employee pension fund brought a books-and-records suit against Qualcomm, seeking to force the chipmaker to tell shareholders about its political spending. (Notably, the New York fund, like shareholders in the News Corp case, was represented by Mark Lebovitch of Bernstein Litowitz.) I said at the time that the novel tactic of suing corporations under the Delaware law that grants shareholders the right to request corporate books and records could be a breakthrough in the post-Citizens United effort to force companies to admit their political spending. Qualcomm certainly knuckled under. In February, less than six weeks after the New York fund sued, the previously opaque corporation agreed to disclose online all of its contributions to candidates and parties, as well as donations to Super PACs and trade associations.

News Corp's newly agreed-upon disclosures aren't as robust as Qualcomm's. The company said it would tell shareholders about contributions to all state and local candidates (direct corporation contributions to candidates for federal office are prohibited) and political action committees. It also agreed to disclose all donations to political nonprofits that are specifically earmarked as independent expenditures on behalf of a particular candidate or party and all spending in support of or opposition to ballot measures. But the settlement only requires the company to inform the board, and not shareholders, about Super PAC and trade association contributions over $25,000. Nevertheless, the settlement puts News Corp's political transparency obligations in black and white, and that's a real accomplishment for shareholders of such a politically active corporation.

Will other shareholders take advantage of pending derivative suits to obtain additional disclosure of corporate political spending? I hope so. The Securities and Exchange Commission continues to mull beefed-up disclosure requirements, and groups like the Center for Political Accountability continue to push for shareholder resolutions demanding transparency. The center's director, Bruce Freed, told me that he expects the "proven vehicle" of shareholder resolutions to lead the way in improving transparency in corporate political spending. (Such resolutions, according to CPA, have prompted 120 companies to enhance their disclosures.) Sloan of CREW, however, told me that between the Qualcomm and News Corp settlements, "I think you'll be seeing people looking at this more and more."

If you're among those who contend that shareholders have no need to be informed of political spending approved by officers or directors, either because contributions aren't material or because they serve the corporation's interests, you might want to check out the latest work of law professors Lucien Bebchuk of Harvard and Robert Jackson of Columbia. They've summarized it at the Harvard Law School blog on corporate governance.

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News Corp reaches settlement with shareholders

Rupert Murdoch was accused of running News Corporation as 'personal fiefdom' in lawsuit brought against directors

News Corporation has reached a $139m (£91m) settlement with shareholders over a lawsuit claiming that its board of directors put Rupert Murdoch's interests ahead of the company over the phone-hacking scandal and the acquisition of his daughter Elisabeth's TV company Shine.

The suit was brought against News Corp directors including Murdoch, his sons James and Lachlan and the former British Airways boss Rod Eddington. According to the shareholders the board had "disregarded its fiduciary duties" and allowed Rupert Murdoch to run News Corp as his "own personal fiefdom".

The Amalgamated Bank, Central Laborers Pension Fund and City of New Orleans Employees' Retirement System first launched their suit after News Corp's 2011 purchase of Shine. They subsequently amended their complaint to include the hacking scandal.

Shareholders alleged that the board had ignored "clear and unmistakable warnings that News Corp's business practices were not only unethical, but also illegal". The board was also "an outright accomplice to Murdoch's self-interested breaches of duty", according to the suit.

The lawsuit accuses Rupert Murdoch of treating News Corp "like a wholly owned family candy store" and argues that a fair price was not achieved for Shine. News Corp paid $675m for Shine, the maker of Masterchef. Elisabeth Murdoch received $214m in cash from the sale, according to government filings. "Amazingly, at about the same time that the police turned up the heat on son James in early 2011, Rupert told the board that News Corp should buy a business owned by his daughter Elisabeth," the suit claimed, referring to James Murdoch's then central role in dealing with the hacking scandal as executive chairman of News International, News Corp's newspaper arm. "There was no pretence of negotiating the deal's terms," according to the shareholder lawsuit.

As part of the settlement, which is awaiting court approval, News Corp agreed to tighten oversight at the company and to set up an anonymous hotline for whistleblowers to report misconduct. The settlement, which will be covered by insurance, was brought against directors on behalf of shareholders and the money will be paid back to the company by the insurer.

It is the largest ever reached in a so-called derivative lawsuit in Delaware chancery court, said Jay Eisenhofer, partner at Grant & Eisenhofer, who represented Amalgamated Bank. In a statement, the company said: "News Corporation acknowledges the meaningful role the plaintiffs and their counsel played in the company's continuing efforts to enhance the important compliance and governance structures and policies that the board and management of News Corporation have adopted over the last year and are adopting as part of the settlement." The hacking scandal has led to over 100 arrests and is still under investigation by the US authorities. News Corp is planning to split its assets in two, with its newspapers and publishing assets keeping the News Corp name while the TV and Hollywood media assets will be renamed 21st Century Fox.

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The Sun's Royal Editor among four charged over alleged corrupt payments

Duncan Larcombe, the Sun’s Royal Editor, is to be charged over allegations that he paid for information about Princes William and Harry during their time at the Sandhurst Military Academy.

Duncan Larcombe to be charged as part of Operation Elveden

By Martin Evans, Crime Correspondent

The Telegraph

1:49PM BST 24 Apr 2013

Mr Larcombe is to be charged alongside former Colour Sergeant John Hardy and his wife Claire, who allegedly accepted 34 payments totalling £23,000 between February 2006 and October 2008.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) also announced that Tracy Bell, who was employed by the Ministry of Defence as a pharmacy assistant at Sandhurst, was also to be charged with allegedly accepting corrupt payments for passing information to The Sun.

It is alleged that Miss Bell accepted payments totalling £1,250 for five articles that appeared in the newspaper between October 2005 and July 2006.

She has been charged with one count of committing misconduct in public office, while the other three have been charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

All four are due to appear before Westminster Magistrates Court on May 8.

The charges follow investigations conducted by Scotland Yard as part of Operation Elveden, the inquiry set up to look at allegations of corrupt payments.

The investigation was set up in the wake of the phone hacking inquiry and has so far seen more than 60 journalists and public officials arrested.

Earlier today a 41-year-old former Surrey Police officer became the latest person arrested as part of Operation Elveden.

Explaining the decision to bring the latest charges, Alison Levitt, QC, principal legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions, said: "Following a careful review of the evidence, we have concluded that Duncan Larcombe, John Hardy and Claire Hardy should be charged with a conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

“Duncan Larcombe was employed as Chief Royal Correspondent at The Sun, John Hardy served as a Colour Sergeant based at the Royal Military Training Academy in Sandhurst and Claire Hardy is his wife.

"It is alleged that from 10 February 2006 to 15 October 2008, 34 payments were made to either John Hardy or Claire Hardy totalling over £23,000 for stories relating mainly to the Royal Family or matters at Sandhurst.”

She added: “In addition we have concluded that Tracy Bell should be charged with one count of misconduct in public office. Tracy Bell was employed by the Ministry of Defence as a pharmacy assistant at Sandhurst Medical Centre.

“It is alleged that Tracy Bell received £1250 between 17 October 2005 and 7 July 2006 relating to five articles published in The Sun regarding matters at Sandhurst.”

The CPS further announced that there was insufficient evidence to charge a second member of the public with any criminal offence.

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