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Rupert Murdoch and the Corruption of the British Media

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Scotland Yard want to interview Rupert Murdoch about crime at his UK papers

Exclusive: Detectives contacted media mogul last year but agreed with lawyers to wait until end of phone-hacking trial


Rupert Murdoch has been officially informed by Scotland Yard that detectives want to interview him as a suspect as part of their inquiry into allegations of crime at his British newspapers.

It is understood that detectives first contacted Murdoch last year to arrange to question him but agreed to a request from his lawyers to wait until the phone-hacking trial was finished.

The interview is expected to take place in the near future in the UK and will be conducted "under caution", the legal warning given to suspects. His son James, who was the executive chairman of News International in the UK, may also be questioned.

News of the police move comes after an Old Bailey jury found Murdoch's former News of the World editor Andy Coulson guilty of conspiring to hack phones, but acquitted his former UK chief executive Rebekah Brooks on all charges.

The verdict on Coulson also means that Murdoch's UK company is now threatened with a possible corporate charge, while the media owner also faces the prospect of a dozen more criminal trials involving his journalists as well as hundreds more legal actions in the high court from the alleged victims of phone hacking by the News of the World.

Also, the verdict revives troubling questions for the prime minister about his links with Murdoch and his hiring of Andy Coulson. Questions are likely to focus on why Cameron employed Coulson without making effective checks and whether Cameron gave misleading evidence on oath about this at the Leveson inquiry.

The eight-month trial heard copious evidence of the scale of crime at the News of the World. This also included handwritten notes kept by Glenn Mulcaire, which suggested that during the five years he worked under contract for the News of the World, he had targeted some 5,500 people. Jurors were also shown internal emails discussing cash payments for police working in the royal palaces.

The Guardian understands that a senior Murdoch journalist and two of those who pleaded guilty before the trial, Mulcaire and Neville Thurlbeck, had discussions with police about giving evidence for the prosecution but that in all three cases the negotiations failed.

Murdoch's former UK chairman, Les Hinton, was also interviewed under caution for three hours in September 2012 as detectives pursued evidence into what happened at the highest reaches of Murdoch's UK company.

The verdict on Coulson increases the possibility that Murdoch's UK company, News UK (formerly News International) could be charged as a corporation, which in turn could potentially lead to the prosecution of members of the UK company's former board of directors, potentially including Rupert and James Murdoch.

Such a prosecution can occur only if the "controlling minds" of the company are found to be guilty of a crime. Following Tuesday's verdicts, the Met police Operation Weeting is expected to submit a new file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service.

If the former UK company were convicted of conspiring to intercept communications, the members of its board of directors – including Rupert and James Murdoch – could then be prosecuted personally under section 79 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa). This makes directors liable for prosecution if their company breaches Ripa as a result of their consent, connivance or neglect.

Murdoch already faces a volley of threats in the English criminal and civil courts. Eleven more trials are due to take place at the Old Bailey involving a total of 20 current or former journalists from the Sun and the News of the World, who are accused variously of making illegal payments to public officials, conspiring to intercept voicemail and accessing data on stolen mobile phones. The journalists have denied the charges.

In Scotland, Coulson and two other News of the World journalists face trials variously on charges of perjury, phone hacking and breach of data protection laws. They too, have denied the charges.

Eleven other current or former Murdoch employees are waiting to discover whether they will be prosecuted for phone hacking, email hacking or perversion of the course of justice. Police have arrested or interviewed under a caution a total of 210 people, including 101 journalists from six national newspapers.

In the high court, Murdoch is mired in civil litigation. His UK company has already settled and paid damages to some 718 victims of phone hacking by Mulcaire – an average of nearly three for every week he was contracted to the News of the World. Now News UK faces a new round of litigation from victims of Dan Evans, a showbusiness writer who also specialised in hacking phones for the News of the World. Evans has been co-operating with police and, according to one source, detectives recently have been approaching up to 90 people a week to warn them that they were targeted by Evans with a possible final total of some 1,600 victims.


Edited by Douglas Caddy
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I want to know who got paid what to get Rebekah Brooks cleared of these charges...

How can they convict one, and not the other?? Does not compute, at all.

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Andy Coulson to Face Retrial in Royal Phone Hacking Case


The New York Times

LONDON — Prosecutors said Monday that they would seek a retrial for Andy Coulson, a former spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron who once edited Rupert Murdoch’s best-selling tabloid in Britain, on charges of illegally acquiring royal telephone directories from police officers.

A court in London was told of the plans by the prosecutor, Andrew Edis, after a jury failed to reach a verdict on bribery charges last week and found Mr. Coulson guilty of only one charge, a conspiracy to hack into mobile phones during his time at the helm of The News of the World, a Sunday paper that is now defunct. The paper’s former royals editor, Clive Goodman, will also be retried on the same charges; Mr. Goodman has already pleaded guilty to a separate charge of phone hacking that occurred in 2006.

Mr. Coulson, who resigned from Mr. Cameron’s office in 2011, faces up to two years in prison for the hacking verdict. The judge is expected to sentence him on Friday, along with three other former colleagues at The News of the World, who pleaded guilty before the trial. A fourth colleague who has admitted to phone hacking will be sentenced in late July.

Prosecutors have argued that as deputy editor from 2000 to 2003 and then as editor from 2003 to 2007, Mr. Coulson condoned phone hacking on a “systemic” scale. They allege that he condoned the paying of bribes for the royal phone books, and then used them to intercept the voice mail messages of aides to the royal family.

The police say thousands of phones were targeted.

On Monday, Mr. Edis described the list of phone hacking victims as “a Who’s Who to Britain for the first five years of the century,” noting that “what occurred was the routine invasion of privacy and that has the capacity to do serious harm.”

After Mr. Coulson’s conviction last week, Mr. Cameron publicly apologized for hiring him and called it “the wrong decision.”

The News of the World was closed by Mr. Murdoch’s British newspaper holding company, News International, now renamed News UK, in July 2011 after it emerged that a private investigator employed by the tabloid had intercepted voice mail messages left on the mobile phone of a kidnapped teenager in 2002 who was later found dead.

Rebekah Brooks, who was Mr. Coulson’s boss between 2000 and 2003, was acquitted of all charges last week.

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I want to know who got paid what to get Rebekah Brooks cleared of these charges...

How can they convict one, and not the other?? Does not compute, at all.

It all depends how much you are willing to pay people not to give evidence against you. Apparently, the prosecution had talks with three of those who pleaded guilty, about them giving evidence against Brooks. However, all three eventually decided against this. Clearly Murdoch was willing to pay large sums of money to keep quiet about Brooks but not about Coulson.

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One person whose articles I look forward to is anything by George Monbiot.

He has an excellent website at monbiot.com

The real enemies of press freedom are in the newsroom
The principal threat to expression comes not from state regulation but from censorship by editors and proprietors
‘A political monoculture afflicts much of the press. Reports that might reveal a different side of the story remain unwritten.' Photograph: Tetra Images/Corbis

Three hundred years of press freedom are at risk, the newspapers cry. The government's proposed press regulator, they warn, threatens their independence. They have a respectable case, when you can extract it from the festoons of sticky humbug. Because of the shocking failures, so far, of self-regulation, I'm marginally in favour of the state solution. But I can also see the dangers.

Those who cry loudest against the regulator, however, recognise only one kind of freedom. In countries such as ours, the principal threat to freedom of expression comes not from government but from within the media. Censorship, in most cases, happens in the newsroom.

No newspaper has been more outspoken about what it calls "a chill over press freedom" than the Daily Mail. Though I agree with almost nothing it says, I would defend its freedom from state censorship as fiercely as I would defend the Guardian's. But, to judge by what it publishes, within the paper there is no freedom at all. There is just one line – echoed throughout its pages – on Europe, social security, state spending, tax, regulation, immigration, sentencing, trade unions and workers' rights. Labour is always too far to the left, even when it stands for nothing at all. Witness the self-defeating headline on Monday: "Red Ed 'won't unveil any policies in case they scare off voters'." Ed is red even when he's grey.

This suggests either that any article offering dissenting views is purged with totalitarian rigour, or general secretary Paul Dacre's terrified minions, knowing what is expected of them, never make such mistakes in the first place.

A similar political monoculture afflicts much of the press. Reports that might reveal a different side of the story remain unwritten. A free market in news is not the same as a free press, unless freedom is defined so narrowly that it refers only to the power of government, rather than to the power of money.

The monomania of the proprietors – or the editors they appoint in their own image – is compounded by an insidious, incestuous culture. The hacking trial revealed a world, as Suzanne Moore notes, of "sleepovers, dinners, flowers and presents ... in which genuine friendship is replaced by nightmare networking". A world in which one prime minister becomes godfather to a proprietor's child and another borrows an editor's horse, and an industry that is supposed to hold power to account brokers a seamless marriage between loot and boot.

On Mount Olympus, the gods pronounce upon issues that afflict only mortals: columnists with private-health plans support the savaging of the NHS; editors who educate their children privately heap praise upon Michael Gove, knowing that their progeny won't suffer his assault on state schools.

It doesn't matter, the defenders of these papers say: there are plenty of outlets, so balance can be found across the spectrum. But the great majority of papers, local as well as national, are owned by exceedingly rich people or their companies, and reflect their views. The owners, in the words of Max Hastings, once editor of the Daily Telegraph, are members of "the rich men's trade union", who "feel an instinctive sympathy for fellow multimillionaires". The field as a whole is unbalanced.

So pervasive are these voices that they seem to dominate even outlets they do not own. As Robert Peston, the BBC's economics editor, said last month, BBC News "is completely obsessed by the agenda set by newspapers ... if we think the Mail and Telegraph will lead with this, we should. It's part of the culture."

An analysis by researchers at Cardiff University found a deep and growing bias in the BBC in favour of bosses and against trade unions: five to one on the 6 o'clock news in 2007; 19 to one in 2012. Coverage of the banking crisis – caused by bankers – was overwhelmingly dominated, another study shows, by interviews with, er, bankers. As a result there was little serious challenge to their demand for bailouts and their resistance to regulation. Mike Berry, who conducted the research, says the BBC "tends to reproduce a Conservative, Eurosceptic, pro-business version of the world".

Last week, a brilliant and popular columnist for the Times, Simon Barnes, was sacked after 32 years. He was told that the paper could no longer afford his wages. But he wondered whether it might have something to do with the fierce campaign he's been waging against the owners of grouse moors, who have been wiping out the rare hen harriers that eat their quarry. It seems at first glance ridiculous: why would someone be sacked for grousing about grouse? But after experiencing the furious seigneurial affront with which a former senior editor at the Times, Magnus Linklater, responded to my enquiries about his 4,000-acre estate in Scotland and his failure to declare this interest while excoriating the RSPB for trying to protect hen harriers, I'm not so sure. This issue is of disproportionate interest to the rich men's trade union.

The two explanations might not be incompatible: if a paper owned by a crabby oligarch wanted to sack people for reasons of economy, it might look first at those engendering complaints among the owner's fellow moguls. The Times has yet to give me a comment.

Over the past few weeks, Private Eye has published several alarming claims about what it sees as censorship by the Telegraph on behalf of its advertisers. It says that extra stars have been added to film reviews, and that a story claiming HSBC had overstated its assets was spiked from on high so as not to offend the companies that pay the rent. The Telegraph told me: "We do not comment on inaccurate pieces from a satirical magazine like Private Eye."

Whatever the truth in these cases may be, it does not take journalists long to learn where the snakes lurk and the ladders begin. As the journalist Hannen Swaffer remarked long ago: "Freedom of the press ... is freedom to print such of the proprietor's prejudices as the advertisers don't object to." Yes, let's fight censorship: of the press and by the press.

Twitter: @georgemonbiot. A fully referenced version of this article can be found at Monbiot.com

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Andy Coulson jailed for 18 months for conspiracy to hack phones

Sentencing of former News of the World executives over phone hacking shows no one is above the law, says David Cameron

• Sentencing remarks of Mr Justice Saunders (pdf)


The disgraced former No 10 spin doctor Andy Coulson has been jailed for 18 months for plotting to hack phones while he was in charge of the News of the World.

The 46-year-old was found guilty last week of conspiring to intercept voicemails at the now-defunct Sunday tabloid following an eight-month trial at the Old Bailey.

The offence carries a maximum sentence of two years' imprisonment, but Coulson received a discount of several months for his previous good character. He could be out in less than nine months because, as a non-violent offender, he is required to serve just half his sentence.

Mr Justice Saunders told the court the evidence heard in the trial revealed that Coulson clearly thought it was necessary to use phone hacking to maintain the News of the World's "competitive edge".

He said the paper's delay in telling police about hacking the voicemail of the missing Surrey schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002 showed the motivation was to "take credit for finding her" and sell the maximum number of newspapers. Saunders described that delay as "unforgiveable".

The judge said: "Mr Coulson has to take the major share for the blame of phone hacking at the News of the World. He knew about it, he encouraged it when he should have stopped it."

The judge said there was "insufficient evidence to conclude that he started phone hacking at the News of the World" but there was "ample evidence that it increased enormously while he was editor".

Dressed in the grey suit and white shirt combination he has frequently worn during the trial, Coulson arrived with his QC, Timothy Langdale, in a London taxi and pushed through the scrum of photographers to enter the court.

Coulson's wife Eloise was not present. One of his legal team took his small black holdall to the dock where large suitcases belonging to the other defendants who are also being sentenced sat.

He will be taken to HM Belmarsh prison near Woolwich at lunchtime where he will be assessed before being sent to an open prison in a few days.

The high-security prison is home to terrorists and other category A prisoners, but has a separate wing dealing with local offenders sentenced at the Old Bailey, which is where Coulson and his co-defendants will go.

David Cameron, who employed Coulson as his director of communications after he left the News of the World, said the jail sentence showed that "no-one is above the law".

Asked about the outcome on a visit to Scotland, the prime minister said: "Well, what it says is that it is right that justice should be done and no one is above the law, which is what I have always said."

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, said the case amounted to a verdict on Cameron's judgment. "My thoughts today are with the victims of phone hacking, the victims of Andy Coulson's behaviour," he said. "I think it's right that justice has been done.

"I think, once again, it throws up very serious questions about David Cameron's judgment in bringing a criminal into the heart of Downing Street despite repeated warnings. This is a verdict on Andy Coulson's criminal behaviour but it is also a verdict on David Cameron's judgment."

Three former news editors of the paper – all of whom pleaded guilty to taking part in a conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages of royals, celebrities, politicians, sports stars and victims of crime between 2000 and 2006 – were also sentenced.

Greg Miskiw, 64, who hired the private investigator-turned phone hacker Glenn Mulcaire to work for the paper in 2001, was jailed for six months.

Neville Thurlbeck, 52, the paper's former chief reporter and news editor who conspired to hack the phone of former home secretary David Blunkett, also got six months.

James Weatherup, 58, who joined the paper in 2004 and admitted tasking Mulcaire to hack phones, was handed a 12-month suspended sentence.

The paper's former specialist hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, 43, a footballer-turned-investigator who had been jailed for hacking the phones of royal aides in 2007, was also sentenced. He had pleaded guilty to a second set of charges last year, including the hacking of Milly's phone.

Coulson, Miskiw and Thurlbeck looked emotionless during their sentencing and the public gallery was silent. Weatherup and Mulcaire were able to walk free from court.

Three court security staff sat in the dock with the defendants for the first time, escorting Coulson and his two former colleagues after the judge ordered them to be "taken down".

Saunders rejected the argument offered by Mulcaire's lawyers in mitigation that he thought he was helping the police by hacking her phone. But he was allowed home after he recieved a six-month sentence that was suspended for 12 months.

Saunders said: "Mr Mulcaire, you are truly the lucky one", telling him it would be "wrong" to send him back to prison as he had already served time in 2007 for phone hacking.

He added that it was not his fault that the authorities did not conduct a full investigation and undercover the full extent of hacking at the time.

The judge also said: "All the journalists in the dock are distinguished. There was no need for hacking. Their achievements now count for nothing".

Saunders gave the maximum one third discount to Thurlbeck, who had hacked David Blunkett's phone, and Miskiw, the executive who hired Mulcaire, because they had pleaded guilty early. He said the previous good character of Thurlbeck, Miskiw and Weatherup counted for very little.

"They were able to get away with this criminal conduct for so long because of the respect in which they were held as senior journalists," Saunders said.

He said all three had expressed remorse for what they had done but he felt it "had the appearance of regret for the consequences … of getting caught".

The sentencing of the five comes three years to the day since the Guardian revealed that someone acting on behalf of the News of the World had hacked Milly's phone in 2002.

During the trial, Coulson denied being party to hacking or knowing that Milly's phone had been hacked by Mulcaire.

However, he admitted listening to the hacked messages Blunkett left on a married woman's phone – an admission that is likely to have been central to the jury's decision to find him guilty.

He also said he did not know at the time that hacking was a crime and that if he knew any of his staff were involved in the unlawful activity he would have viewed it as "intrusive" and "lazy journalism".

Hacking was made an offence under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, which was drawn up to govern law enforcement agencies' use of surveillance.

The prosecution said that Coulson and the news editors had "utterly corrupted" the News of the World and turned it into a "thoroughly criminal enterprise".

Crown prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said the phone-hacking victims of the now-defunct Sunday tabloid "read like a Who's Who of Britain in the first five years of this century".

After sentencing, the court returned to the issue of the £750,000 costs the crown is seeking to claw back from those convicted. All five face financial ruin if costs are awarded against them in what the judge described as a "unique" case, which will be heard later this year.

Prosecutor Andrew Edis said it was still not clear if Coulson's costs would be indemnified against costs.

Jonathan Laidlaw, QC for Rebekah Brooks said if she were to give a detailed breakdown of the costs it would take her three months.

Seven of the 11 jurors returned to see Coulson sentenced.

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Andy Coulson faces questions over 'hidden assets' as court seeks to recoup phone hacking trial costs

Former News of the World editor is being asked to pay back a proportion of the cost of his trial but prosecutors want to investigate whether he has hidden any assets


July 26, 2014


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Two Former Senior Murdoch Editors Charged Over UK Phone-Hacking

By REUTERS JULY 30, 2014, 8:57 A.M. E.D.T.

LONDON — Two more senior journalists from Rupert Murdoch's defunct British tabloid the News of the World have been charged with phone-hacking, prosecutors said on Wednesday, weeks after the paper's former editor was jailed for the crime.

Neil Wallis, the paper's former deputy editor, and former features editor Jules Stenson, have been charged with conspiracy to intercept voicemails on mobile phones of well-known figures or people close to them, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Andy Coulson, who edited the paper from 2003 until 2007 before working as Prime Minister David Cameron's media chief, was jailed on July 4 for 18 months for encouraging staff to hack phones in a bid to get exclusive stories.

His trial, one of the most expensive of its kind in British legal history, heard that thousands of victims from celebrities to politicians and victims of crime were targeted by the paper.

Minutes after he was convicted, Cameron apologised for employing him.

Outrage at the paper's activities forced Murdoch to close the paper in 2011 when the scale of the crimes came to light, since when dozens of reporters from his British tabloids have been arrested over allegations of criminal activity.

Four other former journalists and a private detective have also admitted phone-hacking while working for the News of the World.

A week ago, the CPS decided not to take action against six other staff. Prosecutors are still considering whether corporate charges should be brought against News Corp.'s British arm, formerly known as News International (NI).

"I'm devastated that more than three years after my initial arrest, this swingeing indiscriminate charge had been brought against me," Wallis said on Twitter.

"Perhaps it is inevitable that after being such an outspoken critic of the collateral damage and pain caused by this needlessly vindictive and enormously costly investigation, the ire has been turned on me for something that occurred at NI of which I knew nothing and which I have always said was wrong."

News UK, as Murdoch's British paper business is now known, said it had no comment on the charges while Stenson could not be reached for comment.

Wallis and Stenson are due to appear at London's Westminster Magistrates' court on Aug. 21.

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Notes on a Scandal

‘Hack Attack,’ About a Rupert Murdoch Paper’s Trials, by Nick Davies

By DAVID CARR AUG. 14, 2014

The New York Times Book Rewiew

In the United States, most of us fall for the movie version of Britain — horsy, obsessed with propriety and full of hard stares of unfulfilled longing between the genders. And then there is the Britain of Nick Davies’s “Hack Attack: The Inside Story of How the Truth Caught Up With Rupert Murdoch.”

This version is less Jolly Olde England than a country gone mad, drunk on prerogative, a tiny treehouse of a place where people lie just for practice and trash the law for sport and gain. There is so much excess and human pathology on display here, it makes “Bonfire of the Vanities” seem restrained.

The book traces Davies’s three-year campaign to bring to account News Corporation and its British subsidiary News International, along with its owners, the Murdochs, and various enablers in Britain. It is a travelogue of a relentless pursuit, detailing how Davies, an investigative journalist, refused to accept the common wisdom of the political, media and law-enforcement establishment that hacking at the Murdoch-owned News of the World — breaking into the voice mail messages of public and private figures — was an isolated instance of tabloid excess. As it turned out, the practice was exceedingly common and casually deployed to create villains in order to sell papers and, when it was useful, to persecute enemies of the Murdoch empire. The Britain that emerges in “Hack Attack” is a festering petri dish where, as Davies puts it, “everything is for sale. Nobody is exempt.”

While Davies is a populist and a partisan who loves catching out the rich and punishing elites, he clearly believes that the common folk of Britain have gotten exactly the government and media they deserve. Not only are they willing to lay down a hard-earned quid for one of the tatty papers Murdoch and much of the rest of Fleet Street sell, but the voice mail and email boxes of those newspapers are always jammed with proffers from waiters, hotel clerks and trainers who are more than eager to spill dirt for a few pounds. If, as Janet Malcolm has said, journalists are always selling someone out, the public in Britain seems happy to serve as their wingmen. In that cultural context, the hacking of phones on an enormous scale by The News of the World, Britain’s most popular newspaper, seems like just one more part of how business gets done in a country where the cruelty of the press is chronic and callous.

There’s a long, florid history of tabloid excess in Britain, hardly restricted to the Murdoch-owned papers. This part of the tale began in 2006, when Clive Goodman, the royals editor at The News of the World, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator the newspaper had hired, were arrested and charged with hacking the phones of the British royal family. The pair eventually pleaded guilty and went to prison, and Andy Coulson, the editor of The News of the World at the time, resigned. News Corporation officials insisted it was an isolated incident spawned by a rogue reporter, an assertion that turned Davies into something of a rogue himself because he knew better.

On July 8, 2009, Davies published the first of what would be many articles in The Guardian about the extent of hacking at The News of the World, writing that News Corporation had paid out more than £1 million to settle hacking cases that would have led to embarrassing exposures, and pointedly noting that Coulson, by then the Conservative leader David Cameron’s communications director, had served as deputy editor and then editor of The News of the World while much of the hacking had gone on. There were many attempts to knock down and minimize the story, but working in concert with the attorneys of several victims, Davies published a series of reports over the next few years suggesting that hacking was rife and that knowledge of the practice went right to the top of the newspapers and the political establishment.

As an old hand in journalism, Davies knew the dimensions of the cesspool and was more than willing to stand in the muck for years to figure out what was at the bottom. He is, as it turns out, just the kind of person you don’t want to have on your tail. It’s less about his strategic brilliance and more about an innate refusal to give up — ever. That which cannot be known is precisely what Davies wants to know, over and over again. He wages a ground war to get at the truth, which comes less in one single “aha” moment than as a slow drip of facts penetrating a tissue of lies. Evidence is destroyed just before he gets his hands on it, the police redact documents so as to denude them of value. Then, just in the nick of time, a confidential source or secret document arrives. In that sense, the book moves right along, from cliffhanger to cliffhanger.

Davies is, as these things often go, the lonely hero of his own telling, though Alan Rusbridger, the bespectacled editor of The Guardian, is given credit for backing him when others thought he was a bit off his rocker. But as is frequently the case in books by investigative reporters, everything the editor made him leave out of his coverage for the sake of clarity and narrative momentum now becomes string for the book. And since every misdemeanor is a potential felony to Davies, he chases them all down. However, those exhausting tendencies are really not a deal breaker for the reader, given how good a story Davies uncovered and now is in a position to tell.

For a time that story seemed stuck, but then in September 2010, The New York Times Magazine published an article that included on-the-record confirmation, by former News of the World reporters, of widespread hacking. Much of the British press were bystanders to a huge story that took place right in their midst. Davies’s depiction of Fleet Street, and in particular the thuggish deputies who ran The News of the World, is great industry portraiture. It was a hellish place, where editors waved magic wands until reporters made stories come true. The fairness of that reporting was so much beside the point that the question barely arose. British journalism is a ferociously competitive industry where success is measured on the newsstand and in getting consumers to part with their money. As such, it is a place of campaigns, with targets caricatured to the point that much of any given newspaper seems like a comics page.

The brutal pressure to win in the British press, to get the story no matter what, has curdled the civic impulse of journalism into something far more bloody and less enlightening. Or as Davies pithily explains it, “In the newsroom without boundaries, there was one thing which was not tolerated: failure.”

Hypocrisy is a frequent star of this book. The popular press was going after all manner of public peccadilloes even as journalists spent their own nights drinking, drugging and sleeping with one another. Police officers buried evidence because they were either on the take or had cozy relationships with News International that led to their own columns in the newspapers after they retired.

“Hack Attack” is a very British book, to the good, I think. It teaches the reader a whole new lexicon of skulduggery. Politicians who fail to support the editorial line of the Murdoch newspapers are “monstered,” their personal lives taken apart with an amalgam of facts, lies and trumped-up scandal. The toolbox of the sleazy reporter includes “blagging,” “muppeting” and “double whacking.” Without getting bogged down in the tawdry details, all involved various degrees of false identities and impersonation. The cloak-and-dagger activities of the lawyers and journalists pursuing the Murdoch empire make for delicious reading, as when the attorneys routinely pull the batteries out of their phones when they meet to discuss strategy.

This unseemly state of affairs might have continued to this day were it not for Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old schoolgirl who had gone missing and was found dead. The voice message case had been motoring along under the radar as various sports and entertainment celebrities sued, and were sometimes paid off, for instances of hacking. But all that changed in July 2011 when it came out in The Guardian that The News of the World had hired investigators to hack Milly Dowler’s voice mail messages. (At the time, Davies got a significant fact wrong, which he acknowledges in the book, by reporting that agents of The News of the World, while hacking, had erased a voice mail message.)

Whereas hacking royals and various celebrities may have been a bit of good old-fashioned fun, there was a huge public outcry over the news that a murdered child and a bereaved family were targeted. The uproar engaged heretofore indifferent public officials and compromised police officers sitting on a huge mound of hacking evidence. Other newspapers jumped in, and News International found itself in the middle of a scandal that could no longer be contained. The News of the World was shuttered, a hugely important bid for the satellite broadcaster BSkyB was scuttled and eventually Rupert Murdoch was forced to spin off his beloved newspapers to contain that damage.

Coulson ended up paying dearly for encouraging and tolerating hacking with a guilty finding, but his predecessor at The News of the World, Rebekah Brooks, who went on to edit another Murdoch publication, The Sun, and to run his British newspaper operation, was acquitted on all charges. She is, in Davies’s account, the white whale, always just out of reach and eluding the various harpoons he lobs at her. Perhaps it is a quirk of British justice, and great lawyering, that she got away.

In the book, she comes off as a particularly ambitious, particularly British version of the professional social climber. She is an extremely cinematic character, menacing various politicians about their extramarital affairs even as she has her own with Coulson. As an editor, Brooks went on various campaigns — Britain must build prison ships! — less as a matter of civic conviction than because the campaigns moved copies at the newsstand. She shared drinks and horses with police officers, and her newspapers’ ability to make and end the careers of prime ministers meant that they frequently courted her, instead of the other way around.

Despite the book’s subtitle, the truth never catches up with Murdoch. True enough, he loves newspapering and has been known to become deeply involved in editorial matters, but no real case is made that he knew the specifics of how his papers were coming up with very private facts about public figures. His son James — the pair are frequently depicted at odds — was closer to the action, and was called to account both in Parliament and in the book. But one need only note his subsequent ascent to understand that the dents have been hammered out and he continues to roll along.

It is, in the best way, an old story. A lone gunslinger takes on a dishonest town, and in the end the bad guys flee. It is both more complicated and a bit less satisfying in reality, but that would be another book, and probably a less enjoyable one.


The Inside Story of How the Truth Caught Up With Rupert Murdoch

By Nick Davies

Illustrated. 430 pp. Faber & Faber. $27.

David Carr writes the Media Equation column for the business section of The Times and is the Lack professor of media at Boston University.

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Phone-hacking trial: Rebekah Brooks drops costs application

Publisher News UK’s decision will save the taxpayer millions of pounds and avoids a protracted legal argument about costs

· By Lisa O'Carroll


· The Guardian, Wednesday 1 October 2014 08.21 EDT

Rebekah Brooks has dropped her application for the taxpayer to reimburse her legal costs of up to £7m relating to the marathon phone-hacking trial.

She dropped the claim after News UK – the News Corp subsidiary that under a previous guise as News International published the now-defunct News of the World – which was indemnifying her costs, said it would not be seeking to be reimbursed following her acquittal on all charges.

The publisher’s decision also means other cleared defendants in the trial who were indemnified by News UK have dropped their cost claims.

News UK’s decision saves the taxpayer millions of pounds and was made because the company did not wish to become embroiled in a protracted argument about its case.

Robert Smith QC, for News UK, said the sheer scale of the exercise of assessing costs had become clear and this had troubled the company.

“It is for that reason that News UK have indicated it did not feel willing to engage in an exercise addressing these issues,” said Smith.

A spokesperson for News UK said: “Given the certainty that our costs would continue to increase disproportionately, we’ve taken the pragmatic view not to seek repayment from the defendants for legal costs borne by the company.”

News UK’s decision not to reclaim costs, although expensive, means it avoids a potentially damaging and protracted scrutiny of its stance during and before the trial.

In a hearing in July Mr Justice Saunders warned that when it came to costs applications: “I have to consider whether any defendant brought it on themselves and also whether I would have to consider News International conduct in relation to the matter.”

Although News UK was not a party to the trial, it told the defendants it no longer wanted to be the beneficiary of any costs order.

Brooks’s counsel said she had never intended to try to recover any personal expenses in relation to the trial, which would have included rent of a Georgian townhouse in Bloomsbury, central London, 15 minutes’ walk from the court.

It is believed the costs for the former News International chief executive were between £5m and £7m, with the total for the other defendants running to several million.

Two of the six defendants acquitted in the trial are however seeking all, or a portion of their costs.

Rebekah Brooks’s husband Charlie is seeking ballpark costs of £600,000 including VAT.

Stuart Kuttner, former managing editor of the News of the World, is seeking £135,000 of costs incurred before News UK indemnified him in January last year.

Smith told Saunders at the Old Bailey hearing: “News UK would not seek or accept any part of any order by way of costs of central funds, public funds.”

It is believed the company’s decision was made in the last 24 hours.

It emerged during the hearing that News UK had indemnified Brooks for her legal costs.

Brooks’s counsel, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, told Saunders: “Any money that would have been subject to a claims cost order would have gone immediately to News to compensate them for the financial support they were good enough to afford her during her trial.”

He said: “As News’s position is that they do not want to receive any costs from this trial ... I formally withdraw the application on her behalf.”

News UK had also indemnified the legal costs incurred by the company’s head of security Mark Hanna, Brooks’s former secretary Cheryl Carter, and security guard Paul Edwards.

They also will not be making applications for costs, the judge was told.

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