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Rupert Murdoch and the Corruption of the British Media

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So far there has been no admission to hacking the phones of Labour politicians. There are two reasons for this. One is that it might suggest that is why David Cameron protected Andy Coulson for so long. His job was to provide news of scandals that would hurt Labour. The second reason concerns national security. For example, were they targeting the phones of treasury ministers? This information could be used to clean-up on the stock exchange.

Phone hacking: Rupert Murdoch 'urged Gordon Brown' to halt Labour attacks

Former PM was asked to 'defuse' NoW row, says ex-minister

Ed Miliband calls for full details of 'criminal behaviour'

By Toby Helm and James Robinson


Saturday 9 April 2011 22.16 BST

Brown, who became increasingly concerned at allegations of phone hacking and asked the police to investigate, had claimed that he was a victim of hacking when chancellor.

This takes the story to a new level. Knowledge about future budget changes enables people to make a fortune from the stock market.

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Exclusive: Royals pulled into phone-hacking scandal

Prince Andrew's daughters are among the latest high-profile figures said to be victims of News International's illegal activities

The Independent

By James Hanning

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Royal Family has been pulled into the News International phone-hacking affair, dealing a blow to the latest desperate attempt by Rupert Murdoch's media giant to hide the true extent of the scandal, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice are suspected targets of the media empire's hacking activities, and their father, the Duke of York, has privately expressed exasperation at the apparent breach of his family's privacy. Suspicions that the princesses were targets arose after Eugenie was the subject of an attempted mugging while travelling in Cambodia with a friend two years ago. The attack, in Phnom Penh during the girls' gap year, was thwarted by bodyguards but details of the incident quickly found their way into The Sun newspaper and other News International (NI) publications.

This is the first instance of the Royal Family being drawn into the phone-hacking row since the conviction of Clive Goodman, the News of the World's royal editor four years ago. Goodman pleaded guilty to intercepting messages left on phones of aides to Princes William and Harry and was jailed for four months. Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator used to carry out the interceptions, was jailed for six months.

It is understood Prince Andrew, himself the subject of intense media scrutiny, and his ex-wife, the Duchess of York, also believe they were personally targeted. Prince Andrew, though angered by what he sees as the intrusion into his daughters' lives, has no plans to take the matter further.

Related articles

•News of the World apologises to hacking victims

•Charlotte Harris: 'Sorry' means something else at News International

•Leading article: News International has a long way to go

In today's edition, the News of the World apologised "publicly and unreservedly" to all victims of the hacking. It added: "What happened to them should not have happened. It was and remains unacceptable."

But revelations of further targeting of members of the Royal Family will increase pressure on NI, whose admission of liability on Friday has been widely interpreted as the latest attempt by the media empire to restrict the growing damage caused by the scandal. NI has been forced to retreat from its initial claims that the hacking was the work of a single "rogue reporter" as a stream of embarrassing disclosures showed that as many as four former NoW news editors and many other staff may have been aware of the operation.

They expressed regret for the phone hacking and offered £20m for a group settlement of eight current legal cases including the former culture secretary Tessa Jowell and actress Sienna Miller, but confined their contrition to hacking cases from 2004-2006. Despite NI's admission of liability, scores more cases are currently being pursued by solicitors through the High Court. Earlier this month, Crown Prosecution Service documents revealed how the original Scotland Yard inquiry uncovered more than 4,000 names or partial names and nearly 3,000 full or partial telephone numbers from documents seized when Mulcaire and Goodman were arrested.

Lawyers acting for some of those pursuing legal claims – including those who have been made the NI offer – denied that they were ready to settle, and indicated their legal actions would continue.

Charlotte Harris of Mischon de Reya, who acts for several clients taking action, writes in today's IoS that NI had been "caught by a metaphorical long lens in a compromising position". "They will never want to 'reveal all'," she said. Mark Thomson, speaking for Sienna Miller, said: "Sienna's claims are based on outrageous violations of her privacy. Her primary concern is to discover the whole truth and for all those responsible to be held to account."

The former MP George Galloway, who said he had been shown proof that his phone had been hacked, dismissed the apology as a "cynical attempt to protect the company's chief executive", Rebekah Brooks.

Ms Brooks was the editor of NoW from 2000 to 2003, leaving shortly before NI says the hacking took place. She has consistently denied any knowledge of illegal activity, but told MPs that her newspaper (then The Sun) paid police officers for information. Ms Brooks is said to be close to Rupert and James Murdoch and is also friends with David Cameron. Her successor as NoW editor, Andy Coulson, who resigned when Goodman and Mulcaire were convicted, later became Mr Cameron's director of communications, only to resign earlier this year when the hacking scandal made it "impossible" for him to do his job. He also denies knowledge of any wrongdoing.

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, said yesterday it was important to establish who knew about the "criminal behaviour", and when. "We need to know who knew about these actions and when," he said. "We also need to know how far across the organisation knowledge of these actions went."

Brian Paddick, a former senior Scotland Yard officer who believes his own phone was hacked, said NoW was apologising only in cases where it had been "caught red-handed". "These are people who have issued proceedings. They've got the courts to force NI to hand over evidence, and it would appear that in these cases NI has been caught red-handed, and only in those circumstances are they prepared to make an apology and pay up," he said.

NI's liability admission completely turned on its head previous claims that it was the work of a single "rogue" reporter, Goodman, and Mulcaire. Last week, the former NoW news editor Ian Edmondson and its current senior reporter Neville Thurlbeck were arrested by Scotland Yard detectives investigating hacking allegations. Both men have been bailed.

The latest arrests followed the disclosure of detailed evidence in the civil cases being brought against the Murdoch papers. These include evidence that the phones of the parents of the murdered Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman were targeted by NoW.

Mr Justice Vos, the High Court judge who is handling more than a dozen legal cases, is said to have become exasperated at NI's reluctance to disclose material sought by lawyers involved in the legal battle. Further potentially embarrassing disclosures are expected to be ordered by the judge at a case conference this week and seem certain to give rise to further evidence of the extent of unlawful activity.

The disclosures are fuelling calls for a full-scale investigation into the scandal. Last week, the Government admitted there was a "need" to answer concerns about the failure to prevent the phone-hacking scandal, suggesting the possibility of an independent inquiry. Baroness Doocey, the Lib Dem spokeswoman on the Metropolitan Police Authority, said an outside force needed to investigate Scotland Yard's involvement and its "cosy" relationship with both NoW and NI.

The police are reportedly confident that they can secure convictions at a low level, but their critics will be seeking to apply pressure on them to uncover wrongdoing at senior levels.

Downing Street is also deeply embarrassed by allegations of a close relationship between it and the Murdoch organisation. A former NoW staffer, Paul McMullan, last week told the actor Hugh Grant in a New Statesman interview that he believed Rebekah Brooks knew about the hacking and how she enjoyed a close friendship with David Cameron.

"This is not being played for laughs in Downing Street. Cameron is embarrassed by his association with Rebekah Brooks," one senior Conservative source said.

NI denied claims that Ms Brooks, a key lieutenant of James Murdoch, will follow him to the US later this year.

The judge who brought Murdoch's empire to book

Sir Geoffrey Vos is likely to be remembered in times to come as the lawyer who forced an apology out of one of the most powerful and influential media organisations in the world.

Not that he sought the apology. But his firm and sure handling of the legal battles spiralling out of the News International hacking scandal has forced the Murdoch empire to hold its hands up and admit wrongdoing – up to a point.

"The Vos-man", as he has been dubbed, first became embroiled in the News of the World affair when he heard Max Clifford's case against the newspaper in March 2010, which eventually settled out of court for more than £1m. Since then, Mr Justice Vos has consistently called for a full disclosure of evidence relating to News of the World journalists' dealings with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

His insistence that News International disclose relevant material sought by hacking claimants and their lawyers is widely credited with forcing the Murdoch press to make its unprecedented public apology on Friday.

Born to a Bermondsey leather merchant in 1955, Sir Geoffrey was educated at Cambridge University. He was called to the bar in 1977. After becoming a QC in 1993, he established himself as a leading light of commercial law chambers 3 Stone Buildings. A succession of multimillion-pound financial dispute cases rapidly consolidated his reputation as a Chancery heavyweight.

He counselled the Mirror Group pensions trustees in their $100m claim against Morgan Stanley in 1995, and leading the Office of Fair Trading's unsuccessful case against the Premier League's rules for selling rights to televised matches.

In 2007, as Bar Council chair, Sir Geoffrey defended the independence of the legal profession, under assault from government reforms and cuts to legal aid. More recently, he has been hailed a champion of social mobility, putting his weight behind the previous government's Milburn report on access to the bar.

When not sitting, he chairs the Social Mobility Foundation, which supports young people from low-income backgrounds into top universities and professions, and last year won The Lawyer magazine's outstanding achievement award for his efforts.

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Gordon Brown phone-hacking inquiry halted by civil service

Sir Gus O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, blocked attempt by former PM to hold judicial inquiry into phone-hacking allegations

By Nicholas Watt, Patrick Wintour and Dan Sabbagh


Sunday 10 April 2011 22.15 BST

Sir Gus O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, blocked an attempt by Gordon Brown before the general election to hold a judicial inquiry into allegations that the News of the World had hacked into the phones of cabinet ministers and other high-profile figures.

As News International prepares to pay compensation to victims of the illegal practice, the Guardian understands that Britain's most senior civil servant took steps to prevent an inquiry on the grounds that it would be too sensitive before last year's general election.

The then prime minister, who warned Peter Mandelson in 2009 that his phone had been hacked on behalf of the News of the World, wanted a judicial inquiry after new evidence of the illegal practice emerged that summer.

The Guardian revealed in July 2009 that Rupert Murdoch's News Group newspapers had paid more than £1m to settle legal cases that threatened to reveal illegal phone hacking by private investigators on behalf of News of the World.

The revelations were of acute political sensitivity because Andy Coulson, editor of the News of the World between 2003 and 2007, was by then David Cameron's communications director. Coulson was asked to appear before the Commons culture select committee after the publication of the Guardian disclosures.

O'Donnell told Brown, who lost the support of the News of the World and its sister paper, the Sun, in the autumn of 2009, that it would be inappropriate to hold a judicial inquiry so soon before the election. Coulson was by then one of the most senior members of Cameron's inner circle and was appointed as the Downing Street director of communications after the general election. He has consistently denied any knowledge of wrongdoing, and resigned from No 10 in January saying coverage of phone hacking had made his job impossible.

The disclosure that O'Donnell blocked an inquiry came as Boris Johnson called for a "truth and reconciliation" commission to establish the full facts about phone hacking. In an interview on Sky News, the mayor of London said: "Plainly the police need to get on with it. But I would like to see the entire newspaper industry, what we used to call Fleet Street and indeed the media generally, have a general truth and reconciliation commission about all this. I think all the editors and all the proprietors should come forward, put their hands up, say whether they know of any of their reporters or employees who may or may not have been engaged in these practices which have now been exposed at the News of the World. I think that would be a very healthy development."

Johnson spoke out after News International issued a public apology on Friday to eight victims of phone hacking. These included the actor Sienna Miller, the former Labour culture secretary Tessa Jowell, the football agent Sky Andrew and the publicist Nicola Phillips.

Charlotte Harris of Mishcon de Reya, which represents Andrew, said she was advising her client not to accept compensation until he sees all the documentation in the possession of News International. Harris told Radio 4's The World This Weekend: "Sky Andrew has been finally offered an apology and we are thinking about what to do. There isn't actually a particular figure they have offered us for anything. The position Sky is taking is not disimilar to that of Sienna Miller and Nicola Phillips. It is: isn't this a bit early, we are just about to have disclosure of the documents, we need to have a look and see what has happened and get to the bottom of it and then we'll see where it goes from there."

Asked if she would advise her clients not to settle without disclosure of notes and emails, Harris said: "Yes. What we have at the moment is an apology and an admission, having been working on this for a very long time. We haven't even got near the truth yet. We have got orders that mean we are now going to be able to have a chance at getting to the bottom of it, so we need to find out. How are we meant to know what to accept if we don't know the full extent of what has happened?"

Harris added that thousands of phones could have been monitored. "If you consider that if you hack into one person's phone, you have access to everyone who has left a message for them. And then, if you go into the person who has left a message, you get all of theirs. You have got to be running into several thousand, just from that methodology. To put a figure on it, it is certainly not a handful - maybe 4,000, 6,000, 7,000 - a huge amount of people."The Guardian understands Gordon Brown was so concerned that News of the World was targeting Labour figures that he warned Peter Mandelson his phone had been hacked. Mandelson approached the information commissioner, but he did not confirm that his phone had been hacked.

Critics of Murdoch have urged the government not to decide on his bid to take control of BSkyB until the allegations have been fully investigated. But advisers to the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, say he is prevented by law from taking the scandal into account when he considers whether it is appropriate for News Corporation to be allowed to buy all of BSkyB. The £8bn merger, which the minister has already said he is minded to approve, is being examined on its impact on "media plurality". However, Hunt's lawyers say that phone hacking cannot be considered in an inquiry as regards plurality. They say it could only form part of a "suitability of persons" test into whether Murdoch and the bosses of News Corporation were appropriate individuals to own BSkyB. That test was designed to prevent pornographers, for example, becoming media owners - but it cannot now be invoked in the case of the Murdoch merger. The Enterprise Act that covers the UK's merger rules only allows one referral on one set of grounds, which means £8bn deal could only ever have been referred for political approval on either media plurality or suitability of persons grounds, but not both.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: "We never comment about any advice from a cabinet secretary to a prime minister on any issue."

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Rebekah Brooks: I have no knowledge of actual payments to police

News International chief clarifies 2003 statement that 'we have paid the police for information in the past'

Read Rebekah Brooks' letter to MPs in full

Read Rebekah Brooks' 2003 evidence to MPs

By James Robinson


Monday 11 April 2011 15.42 BST

The former Sun editor, Rebekah Brooks, told a powerful group of MPs on Monday she has no knowledge of any actual payments the paper might have made to police offers in exchange for information.

In a letter to the chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, Brooks, who is now chief executive of the paper's parent company News International, said she had no "knowledge of any specific cases" in which payments to police might have been made.

Brooks was responding to a request from the committee made last month to detail how many police officers received money from the Sun, which she edited from 2003 to 2009, and when the practice ceased.

Brooks, who edited the Sun's sister title the News of the World before moving to the daily in early 2003, told MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee eight years ago:"We have paid the police for information in the past."

In her letter to the home affairs select committee chairman, Labour MP Keith Vaz, Brooks said she was grateful for the opportunity to clarify the evidence she gave in March 2003.

She added that she was talking in general terms about the newspaper industry and its relationship with the police, rather than the paper she edited specifically, when she appeared before the culture media and sport committee in 2003.

"As can be seen from the transcript, I was responding to a specific line of questioning on how newspapers get information," Brooks wrote. "My intention was simply to comment generally on the widely-held belief that payments had been made in the past to police officers.

"If, in doing so, I gave the impression that I had knowledge of any specific cases, I can assure you that this was not my intention."

According to the transcript of 11 March 2003 on the culture select committee website, Labour MP Chris Bryant asked both Brooks and Andy Coulson, then editor of the News of the World, whether "either of your newspapers ever use private detectives, ever bug or pay the police?".

A long answer from Brooks followed about the use of private detectives and listening devices in the public interest, in which she gave a specific example of where a News of the World reporter recorded a conversation to establish that a woman was "selling her daughters" to local "paedophiles", but which did not address the question of whether the police had been paid for news stories.

Bryant then followed up, asking specifically: "And on the element of whether you ever pay the police for information?"

Brooks replied: "We have paid the police for information in the past." Bryant then asked her "will you do it in the future?", to which she answered: "It depends."

At that point Coulson cut in, saying: "We operate within the code and within the law and if there is a clear public interest then we will. The same holds for private detectives, subterfuge, a video bag – whatever you want to talk about."

Vaz wrote to Brooks at the end of last month following evidence given to the home affairs select committee in March by John Yates, the acting deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan police, in which he said Scotland Yard was undertaking "research" on whether police officers had received payments from newspapers.

The Labour MP for Leicester East also wrote to Yates in March on behalf of the home affairs select committee asking for more details about this research.

In the same evidence session Yates reiterated his claim that the Crown Prosecution Service had initially advised the Met to adopt a narrow interpretation of the law relating to phone hacking during its initial investigation into allegations of widespread hacking at the News of the World.

He said that advice "permeated the whole investigation/inquiry" and helped explain why the police had only identified a small number of victims.

The committee has asked Yates to supply a copy of the legal advice the Met received from the CPS when Yates reviewed the hacking evidence last autumn.

Yates said its advice changed after a case conference held in October 2010, during which the CPS made it clear that a wider definition of what constitutes a hacking offence should be adopted.

MPs have asked for copies of the legal advice supplied before and after that October meeting. A spokeswoman for Vaz said he had received a reply from Yates and the committee is likely to make it public in due course.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, contradicted Yates's claims about the CPS advice when he appeared before the home affairs committee earlier this

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Gordon Brown phone-hacking inquiry halted by civil service

Sir Gus O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, blocked attempt by former PM to hold judicial inquiry into phone-hacking allegations

By Nicholas Watt, Patrick Wintour and Dan Sabbagh


Sunday 10 April 2011 22.15 BST

Sir Gus O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, blocked an attempt by Gordon Brown before the general election to hold a judicial inquiry into allegations that the News of the World had hacked into the phones of cabinet ministers and other high-profile figures.

It seems that even the the cabinet secretary is also in the pay of Rupert Murdoch.

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News of the World phone hacking: John Whittingdale seeks public inquiry

Press Complaints Commission not up to the job, says chairman of Commons culture, media and sport select committee

By Josh Halliday


Wednesday 13 April 2011 16.34

The chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, John Whittingdale, has called for a public inquiry into phone hacking at the News of the World.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's The Media Show, Whittingdale said there should be "some kind of commission or inquiry" into why a series of investigations by Scotland Yard failed to link any News International employees to phone hacking other than the News of the World's former royal editor, Clive Goodman.

Rupert Murdoch's news group last week issued a public apology to eight victims of phone hacking, including the actor Sienna Miller and former culture secretary Tessa Jowell, and admitted for the first time that the practice was rife at the paper.

News International has also written to nine other alleged victims of News of the World phone hacking saying it was prepared to pay compensation if they obtained evidence from Scotland Yard to support their claims.

"There are some very big questions. What I find [most] worrying is the apparent unwillingness of the police, who had the evidence and chose to do nothing with it. That's something that needs to be looked into," Whittingdale said on Wednesday.

"It also raises some quite serious questions for the security of government. It seems pretty extraordinary that newspapers are able to listen in to the private conversations of Downing Street, royal staff and others.

"I'm wanting to know through the Home Office why those responsible for safeguarding security weren't able to do anything about it."

Whittingdale said the culture select committee was also "concerned" about previous assurances given to it by News International executives and Scotland Yard that an investigation had been carried out and that there was no new information.

"It wasn't just News International who told us that, it was also the police," he added. "In light of what's now apparent that's a most extraordinary statement."

The Conservative MP said there was "no reason" why a fresh inquiry into phone hacking at the News of the World could not be done by the newspaper industry itself, but added that the sector's self-regulatory body, the Press Complaints Commission, was not up to the job.

"I think the newspaper industry should be very worried," Whittingdale added. "The PCC has not got a particularly strong reputation as a result of this. I don't think they've covered themselves in glory."

Any fresh inquiry should be carried out by "someone who is independent, experienced and powerful who is not in thrall to the press", he added.

"It's a case for the industry recognising that if it is to retain its credibility it needs a stronger, more independent PCC which has real sanctions. If the [newspaper industry] shrug their shoulders, I think cries for [a tougher system of regulation] will grow.

"Newspapers would be very foolish to believe [the phone-hacking scandal] doesn't have implications for the whole way the press operates in this country

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Phone hacking: senior News of the World journalist arrested

James Weatherup in custody as further searches of News of the World offices are expected

By Amelia Hill


Thursday 14 April 2011 10.41 BST

The police investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World has taken a dramatic turn with the surprise arrest of James Weatherup, a senior journalist at the paper.

He is the third current or former News of the World journalist to be arrested as part of Scotland Yard's new investigation into alleged phone hacking at the paper.

Weatherup, who has not previously been named in connection with the scandal, was arrested early on Thursday. He is currently in custody at a police station in outer London.

There are also expected to be further searches of the News of the World offices in Wapping shortly. It is thought that police felt the paper had failed to be fully co-operative during searches last week and officers are now determined to be more robust.

Weatherup was news editor at the News of the World for about 18 months from 2004, and was one of the inner circle of executives under the then editor, Andy Coulson, who became David Cameron's director of communications until earlier this year.

As the third news editor at the paper under Coulson, Weatherup was one of a handful of senior employees who would take part in private discussions of major news stories with other senior members of the paper.

Weatherup subsequently returned to being a senior reporter on the newspaper. He is a close colleague of Ian Edmondson and Neville Thurlbeck, who were arrested last week on suspicion of conspiring to intercept mobile phone messages.

Edmondson, the paper's former assistant editor (news), was dismissed in January. Thurlbeck is the News of the World's chief reporter.

Thurlbeck and Edmondson were arrested after voluntarily presenting themselves at different police stations in south-west London.

Both men were later released on police bail to return in September. Their homes, as well as Thurlbeck's office and computer at the News of the World offices, were searched by police.

It is believed Edmondson, who was sacked from the News of the World in January, and Thurlbeck have been implicated in the long-running scandal through documents seized from Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator employed by the newspaper. Both Edmondson and Thurlbeck deny any wrongdoing.

News International had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

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Phone-hacking investigation identifies more than 91 victims

Scotland Yard detectives tell high court hearing that number of victims may be bigger than previously thought

By Vikram Dodd, Dan Sabbagh and agencies


Friday 15 April 2011 15.11 BST

Scotland Yard's renewed investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World has identified that the number of victims is in excess of 91 people far higher than previously estimated by detectives, the high court heard today.

The publisher of the newspaper has also offered Sienna Miller £100,000 in compensation and offered to pay the actor her costs an offer she has neither accepted nor rejected.

Detectives are trawling through 9,200 pages of material seized from a private investigator used by Rupert Murdoch's tabloid to hack into voicemails, a case management hearing to decide how best to handle the flood of lawsuits against the paper heard.

At the hearing in the high court, Jason Beer QC, representing the Metropolitan police, gave an idea of the scale of the scandal. Beer said that the number of potential victims is "substantially" higher than 91 people.

The figure of 91 is significant. Previously police had said they had recorded a total of 91 pin numbers necessary to access a mobile phone's voicemail in the possession of Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator employed by the News of the World.

The police counsel told the hearing: "It is wrong to say that 91 is the answer, that that is the maximum [number of victims], it may be on a bigger scale."

The court hearing also heard of the offer to Miller, which was designed to reflect the number of times her phone had been targeted. Her case is one of the most advanced of the phone-hacking lawsuits, and arguably the highest profile because of her celebrity.

Mulcaire was convicted of intercepting voicemail messages in January 2007, along with the News of the World journalist Clive Goodman. During the course of the original investigation, police seized paperwork and records from Mulcaire, who was employed by the tabloid.

Subsequently, John Yates, the Met's acting deputy assistant commissioner, who handled a previous phone-hacking investigation, said that the police had only identified 10 to 12 victims. That figure is far lower than the level identified by the fresh investigation team, which is under the leadership of deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers.

Yates said earlier this month that he had quoted the figure on at least four occasions because prosecutors had told police they needed to prove not only that voicemail had been intercepted but also that this had been done before the messages had been heard by the intended recipient.

So far, 24 public figures who believe their voicemail messages were intercepted by journalists at the tabloid are suing News International, the UK newspaper arm of News Corp.

Many more are expected to come forward after News International apologised to eight victims last week and said it would set up a compensation scheme.

Law firm Mishcon de Reya, which is acting for several of the claimants, says it has received an unprecedented number of inquiries since News International published its statement, and estimates there could be more than 6,000 potential claimants.

Judge Justice Vos said that four test cases those of Sky Andrew, Kelly Hoppen, Sienna Miller and Andy Gray could be heard as early as December, but no later than February 2012


Phone-hacking saga is complex and unpredictable ... with lots of loose endsNews Corp and its executives face many more weeks of uncertainty, writes Dan Sabbagh

Dan Sabbagh


Thursday 14 April 2011 20.38 BST

Just a week ago, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation finally looked as if it had worked out a way to reassert control of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. However, the surprise arrest of Sunday tabloid veteran James Weatherup shows just how complex and unpredictable this saga is. An unexpectedly vigorous criminal inquiry – coupled with at least 24 civil suits from celebrities and politicians – shows there are too many loose ends to be swiftly tidied up by last Friday's admission of liability.

Weatherup may have been a key figure in the NoW newsroom since his return to the tabloid in 2003, but his name had not surfaced in any of the lawsuits brought against the newspaper. In the immediate aftermath of his early morning arrest, the company was struggling to establish what was happening. Even so, News Corp insiders were hinting they had factored in the possibility that more reporters might be arrested in addition to chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, who was detained last week.

There were suggestions emanating from Wapping that Weatherup might have been involved in some of the reporting relating to the case of Gordon Taylor, the Professional Footballers' Association chief who settled a phone-hacking lawsuit in 2007, winning an estimated £800,000 payout. But Weatherup's name was not recognised by Mark Lewis, the lawyer who won the payout, suggesting that the police inquiry is going to be more thorough than anybody predicted.

That is hardly what the Murdoch-owned publisher will have wanted, on the eve of a critical high court case conference at which it is hoping to persuade Mr Justice Vos to move to a quick settlement of at least eight of the outstanding civil cases. Last week, News Corp was arguing that its concession of liability in actions brought by the likes of Sienna Miller and Andy Gray meant there was only a limited need to disclose more evidence and fight it out in public – but lawyers representing all 24 cases being brought will argue otherwise. "Because their admission of liability has been so limited," said Lewis, who represents Max Clifford's ex-assistant Nicola Phillips, "and because each and every case is sufficiently different, I don't think they will succeed in having all the cases grouped in a single short action."

The decision by News Corp to bag up and hand over the contents of Weatherup's desk to police, rather than allow detectives to seize its contents, may yet turn out to be significant. News Corp is confident its actions, which kept detectives away from the tabloid's newsroom, were entirely within the law. However, the police prefer to conduct searches themselves – and not being allowed to do so may contribute to friction between the investigators and the publisher.

There have been other complications in the past week, too: the admission that the NoW was involved in the hacking of Tessa Jowell's voicemails brings the uncomfortable realisation that an effort was made to target a serving cabinet minister. Even if the purpose of the investigation was to find out more about her relationship with her husband, David Mills, the lawyer who allegedly took a bribe from Silvio Berlusconi, Jowell was nevertheless also the minister responsible for media policy, and therefore responsible for scrutinising the conduct of those doing the hacking.

With deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers saying privately that she will "follow the evidence" – code for saying the Met intends to be thorough – it is clear that News Corporation faces many more weeks of uncertainty before its executives know where this affair ends.

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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Four Phone-Hacking Cases to Be Tests for Further Claims, Judge Says

The New York Times

April 15, 2011


LONDON — Confronted with the prospect that dozens more potential phone-hacking victims might emerge and sue the News of the World tabloid, a High Court judge said on Friday that he would proceed with four of the current cases, using them as tests to assess damages for further claims.

“Otherwise we will be going on forever,” said the judge, Geoffrey Vos. “Some people may want to, but I don’t.” Judge Vos added that he wanted to “achieve a resolution of all these cases in the shortest possible time at the minimum possible cost.”

He said he would decide later which of the cases to bring forward, but that he was inclined to proceed with those brought by the actress Sienna Miller; the designer Kelly Hoppen; Andy Gray, a television sports commentator; and Skylet Andrew, a sports agent. Those cases have advanced further than some others, he said, and represent a range of issues and possible levels of damage.

Judge Vos made his remarks at a hearing intended to bring some order to the burgeoning civil actions proceeding against the News of the World. Last week, the newspaper admitted to illegally intercepting the voice-mail messages of eight public figures in the mid-2000’s. It apologized and offered to pay them compensation.

At the hearing on Friday, it emerged that the paper had offered one of the victims, Ms. Miller, 100,000 pounds in damages, and given her a deadline of 21 days to consider the offer. Her lawyer, Hugh Tomlinson, said she had not yet decided what to do.

At least 12 other people have begun cases against the newspaper, and at the hearing, a lawyer for the Metropolitan Police said that officers had uncovered at least 91 possible victims, and potentially many more, during their criminal investigation.

The courtroom was crammed with lawyers: for phone-hacking victims like Ms. Miller and Mr. Andrew; for the News of the World’s parent company, News Group Newspapers; for the police department, which has assigned 40 officers to the criminal case; and for Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator hired in the mid-2000’s by News of the World.

Along with the News of the World’s royalty reporter, Clive Goodman, Mr. Mulcaire was jailed in 2007 for hacking into the phones of aides to members of the royal family. Information found in his notebooks, which have been seized by the police, has led in the past few weeks to the detention and questioning of three senior News of the World journalists on suspicion of engaging in phone hacking.

At the hearing, Mr. Mulcaire’s lawyer, Alexandra Marzec, said that he wanted to protect himself against possible criminal charges and was thus admitting to nothing.

“The admissions which have been made by News Group in the past week are made solely on behalf of News Group, and Mr. Mulcaire does not admit doing anything, and does not associate himself with these admissions,” Ms. Marzec said.

The police said that they were currently going through 9,200 pages of material seized from Mr. Mulcaire.

Meanwhile, in a separate but related case, the police said that they were considering opening an investigation into whether journalists had paid police officers for information. The move stems from remarks made in 2003 by Rebekah Brooks, a former News of the World editor and now the chief executive of News International, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch and is News Group’s parent company.

Mrs. Brooks told the culture and media committee at the time that “we have paid the police for information in the past.” Asked this week about the remark, Mrs. Brooks said in a letter to a different parliamentary group, the home affairs committee, that she had been speaking generally.

“I was responding to a specific line of questioning on how newspapers get information,” she wrote. “My intention was simply to comment on the widely held belief that payments had been made in the past to police officers. If, in doing so, I gave the impression that I had knowledge of any specific cases, I can assure you that this was not my intention.”

In a letter to the home affairs committee, Assistant Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said that a senior officer had been assigned “to conduct a scoping exercise to establish whether there are now any grounds for beginning a criminal investigation resulting from the comments made by Rebekah Brooks” in 2003.

A spokeswoman for News International said the company had no comment.

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Accept £100,000 or get nothing, Murdoch lawyers tell Sienna

The Independent

By Cahal Milmo and Martin Hickman

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Actress sienna Miller has been offered £100,000 by the News of The World to settle her phone hacking damages claim and the newspaper will seek to have her case thrown out of court if she fails to accept, lawyers for the Sunday tabloid said yesterday.

The six-figure offer is the first evidence of a News International strategy to halt further revelations against it in civil cases by offering substantial settlements. It has emerged that the actress claims her email account as well as phone messages was hacked using information obtained by the private detective Glenn Mulcaire.

In a pre-trial hearing at the High Court, it was alleged that email hacking took place in December 2008 – nearly two years after Mulcaire was jailed for phone hacking and after a pledge from the NOTW that any illegal newsgathering activity had ceased.

In a statement last week, News International admitted liability and offered an unreserved apology to Ms Miller and seven others whose voicemails were eavesdropped by Mulcaire and NOTW journalists.

The settlement, known as a Part 36 offer, has the potential effect of preventing further disclosures in the case of Ms Miller or the other civil claims, where offers have now been made by the newspaper. Under civil court rules, a claimant (in this case Ms Miller) is liable for the legal costs of both sides if they reject a settlement offer and then pursue their case only to be awarded damages less than the original offer. Michael Silverleaf QC, representing the NOTW, told the court that the £100,000 offer needed to be compared to the maximum of £25,000 he believed Ms Miller would win by continuing her case and therefore any attempt to pursue the proceedings would be an "abuse of process". He said: "Civil litigation does not exist for people to vent their feelings. It exists to provide remedy."

Along with other public figures pursuing claims against the NOTW, Ms Miller has indicated that she wishes the full facts of the newspaper's activities against her to be made public rather than achieve a financial settlement. In an interview last month, she said: "It was ultimately just about standing up for yourself, what you believe is right and wrong. And I believe that [phone hacking] is really wrong, hence not settling out of court. But it's scary, and very expensive so far."

Hugh Tomlinson QC, for Ms Miller, told the court that the actress had not yet decided whether to accept or reject the NOTW offer and was in the meantime awaiting further evidence from the newspaper that could cast light on further claims, including an allegation that a password used for both her mobile phone and emails obtained by Mulcaire had been used in 2008.

Mr Tomlinson said: "We infer that this password was used to hack her emails."

Mr Justice Geoffrey Vos ordered the NOTW to return to court next month for a hearing to rule on its claim that a failure by Ms Miller to accept its £100,000 settlement should result in her case being thrown out.

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Phone hacking: Met admits to only warning 36 people they may be targeted

Disclosure of formerly secret number exposes Met to complaint it breached agreement to warn potential victims

By Nick Davies and James Robinson


Tuesday 26 April 2011 21.14 BST

The Metropolitan police has admitted that during the first four years of the phone-hacking affair it warned only 36 people they may have been targeted by the News of the World's private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

Scotland Yard's latest inquiry, which was launched in January, is believed to be contacting up to 4,000 people whose names and personal details were found in Mulcaire's possession during the original police investigation in 2006.

The disclosure of the number – which Scotland Yard had previously insisted on keeping secret – exposes the Met to the complaint that it breached an agreement with the director of public prosecutions that it would warn all "potential victims" in the affair.

It will also revive criticism that it has consistently played down the scale of criminal activity commissioned by the News of the World.

Scotland Yard has previously repeatedly refused to disclose the number of victims it had warned, rejecting applications under the Freedom of Information Act on the grounds that releasing it would necessarily disclose the identities of those warned, and that this would breach their privacy.

However, in a sharp change of policy, the Met's acting deputy commissioner, John Yates, volunteered that during the 2006 inquiry police had warned 28 people they may have been victims; and that after the Guardian revived the affair in July 2009 they warned eight more.

In a letter to John Whittingdale, chairman of the culture, media and sport select committee, Yates – who was responsible for dealing with the hacking affair for nearly 20 months – gave no explanation for the failure to inform more than 36 potential victims. He said: "I have accepted that more could and should have been done in relation to those who may have been potential victims."

The new inquiry, which is not being overseen by Yates, is known to have approached scores of politicians, police officers, actors, sports personalities and others who had previously been unaware that the Met held evidence to suggest their voicemail messages may have been intercepted by Mulcaire.

Many are now suing News International, which owns the News of the World. Some are also seeking a judicial review of the Met's actions.

Yates's disclosure appears to contradict evidence he gave to the media select committee in February last year. On that occasion he said that where there was evidence that "interception was or may have been attempted by Mulcaire, the Met police has been diligent and taken all proper steps to ensure those individuals have been informed."

In September he told the home affairs select committee that Met policy was "out of a spirit of abundance of caution to make sure that we were ensuring that those who may have been hacked were contacted by us".

In his letter to Whittingdale, Yates also confirmed that during a brief investigation last autumn, police interviewed a total of four people under caution.

Yates did not name them, but they included Sean Hoare, the former News of the World journalist who told the New York Times that he had been actively encouraged to hack voicemail by his editor, Andy Coulson, who went on to become the prime minister's media adviser and who has always denied all knowledge of illegal activity.

When Yates's officers cautioned Hoare that anything he said might be used in evidence against him, he declined to answer questions.

The Yates letter also disclosed more details of his social contacts with senior editors from News International. He acknowledges that he had dinner with the News of the World editor Colin Myler at the Ivy, one of London's most exclusive restaurants; that he had two dinners with the editor of the Sunday Times; and a further dinner with the editor and crime editor of the News of the World four months after he had decided in July 2009 that there was no basis to reopen an investigation into the paper.

Yates reveals in his letter that he failed to disclose a meeting with Neil Wallis, who was deputy editor at the paper at the time of the original hacking inquiry and left in August 2009 after six years in the job. He described a meeting with Wallis earlier this year as a "private engagement" and said "relevant senior officers" at Scotland Yard "have been made aware that Mr Wallis and I know each other".

Whittingdale has now written to Yates again asking him who at the Met was informed about his relationship with Wallis and when.

The investigation into phone-hacking, which is being led by the deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers, has resulted in the arrest of three News of the World executives, including two who are still employed by the paper, this month. All of them were released without charge.

Separately, the Information Commissioner Christopher Graham told MPs on the Home Affairs select committee on Tuesday that the law on phone-hacking is confusing and in urgent need of clarification.

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News Corp finds Avatar hard act to follow as third quarter profits slump

Rupert Murdoch's company reports 24% drop in third quarter profits, though Fox News had highest ever operating profit

By Dominic Rushe in New York

The Guardian,

Thursday 5 May 2011

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is prepared to walk away from its controversial bid for BSkyB if the price keeps rising, its chief operating officer said.

News Corp offered 700p a share for BSkyB but the broadcaster's shares are now 849p. Chase Carey, chief operating officer, told analysts that BSkyB's share price was "clearly troubling" and was "unrealistic" given the challenges he sees ahead for the broadcaster as Murdoch's company posted its quarterly results.

Carey's comments came as News Corp, owner of Twentieth Century Fox and the Times newspaper, reported a 24% slump in its third quarter profits as the success of Avatar proved tough to match.

News Corp reported a fall in net income to $639m (£387m), or 24 cents a share, from $839m, or 32 cents, a year earlier. Fox News reported its highest ever operating profit, but filmed-entertainment sales slid 36% to $1.55bn as the quarter's movies didn't measure up to Avatar, the biggest box-office movie of all time. Film earnings fell by half to $248m.

In a statement, News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch said the third quarter figures had faced "challenging comparisons" thanks to the enormous success of Avatar a year ago. "Looking beyond our film business, I am delighted with the continued and significant operational momentum of our channels businesses," he said.

Murdoch said he was particularly pleased with News Corp's results in television, a segment that "viewed by the market just one year ago as a challenged business, more than quadrupled its earnings contributions over the prior year quarter on the strength of the national advertising market, increased retransmission consent revenues, and the popularity of our programming."

Television revenues rose 23% thanks to a strengthening ad market and revenues for Super Bowl XLV and lower costs. Revenue declines for News Corp's UK and Australian newspapers and the costs of launching iPad newspaper The Daily helped drag down publishing returns that reported an operating income of $36m, a $207m decrease compared with the $243m reported a year ago. Most of that decline, $125m, was due to the litigation costs at News' Integrated Marketing Services.

The slump in figures comes as News Corp fights off problems in its UK newspaper and satellite TV businesses. The company's attempts to take full control of BSkyB have been hampered by scandal as well as demands for a higher price from shareholders.

Last month News Corp issued an "unreserved apology" to eight victims of the phone hacking scandal that has dogged the firm's UK newspaper division.

"Past behaviour at the News of the World in relation to voicemail interception is a matter of genuine regret," the company said in a statement. "It is now apparent that our previous inquiries failed to uncover important evidence and we acknowledge our actions then were not sufficiently robust."

Before the statement News had maintained the scandal was the work of a rogue reporter. But the position became untenable as Scotland Yard's investigation gathered pace. The News of the World's chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck and Ian Edmondson, who was sacked as associate editor (news) in January, have both been quizzed by the Yard.

Lord Prescott, former deputy prime minister and a hacking victim, is suing the Metropolitan police over their initial handling of the phone tap inquiry. Prescott and Labour MP Tom Watson have used parliamentary privilege to claim the new inquiry has now spread to The Sunday Times and The Sun. Prescott has said Murdoch's takeover of BSkyB should be delayed until the phone-hacking inquiry is over.

• This story was amended on 5 May 2011 to correct the price of News Corp's offer for BSkyB, which the article originally gave as770p, and to clarify that this was not a formal bid.

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Phone hacking: Sienna Miller accepts £100,000 from News of the World

Actor is first celebrity to settle claim since tabloid admitted hacking several public figures' voicemail messages

By Amelia Hill and James Robinson


Friday 13 May 2011 14.59 BST

Sienna Miller has accepted £100,000 compensation from the News of the World after it accepted unconditional liability for her phone-hacking claims.

The unexpected agreement came midway through a high court battle with the paper. The actor is the first celebrity to settle a claim since the tabloid, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers (NGN), last month admitted hacking the phones of several public figures. The settlement is the highest privacy award to date; NGN will also pay Miller's legal costs.

Michael Silverleaf QC, NGN's barrister, had previously claimed Miller's case could result in £400,000 in damages. He told the court this would be a "ludicrous" sum.

Separately, it emerged that James Hewitt, the man who became famous for his affair with Princess Diana, is poised to sue for invasion of privacy. He will issue proceedings next week after the Metropolitan police showed him evidence that suggested he may have been targeted by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who was jailed for phone hacking in 2007.

Hewitt's lawyer, Charlotte Harris of Mishcon de Reya, confirmed that her client is to begin action against the paper: "He's had his meeting with the police, we're satisfied he has a strong case and we will be issuing legal proceedings next week."

Max Clifford has claimed Koo Stark, a former girlfriend of Prince Andrew, is also poised to sue a tabloid over phone-hacking, although it is unclear which title he was referring to. Her lawyer, Andrew Veen, said he could not comment at this stage.

Clifford said that his understanding was that the title was not part of the News International stable, which includes the Sun, The Times and Sunday Times. "She approached me some time ago saying she is convinved her phone was tapped when she was with Prince Andrew," he said. "She wanted her to put me in touch with lawyers and she has been taking legal advice. I won't say who she thinks it was, but it wasn't News International".

Miller's legal team had previously insisted she was not concerned with the financial aspect of the settlement. "The crucial point in our view is to know the extent of the wrongdoing," Hugh Tomlinson QC, Miller's barrister said in court.

He added that she had made the last-minute agreement "precisely because all her claims have been admitted [comprising] misuse of private information, breach of confidence, publication of articles derived from voicemail hacking and a course of conduct of harassment over a period of 12 months as resulting from all that.

"Her primary concern is not how much money is rewarded by way of compensation but what the extent was of the hacking that took place," he said. "What she wants is to have is disclosure and proper answers from the News of the World as to what took place so she can have effective non-monetary relief and can be properly compensated."

Silverleaf told the high court the story about her troubled relationship with actor Jude Law, which was published after her voicemail was hacked, was "hurtful" to the 29-year-old. He said £100,000 was fair because it was more than what she would receive if she had suffered a "life-changing experience" such as the loss of an eye or facial scarring.

"What she wants is a public inquiry that goes beyond what the remedy in civil law provides," Silverleaf added. "The complainant's career, reputation or life has not been affected in the long term. She said she was upset at the time. She does not suggest she suffered any long-term harm, there is no suggestion in the pleading."

Last night Hugh Grant backed the use of injunctions to protect celebrities' private lives. Speaking on Newsnight, he said the British press had "been completely out of control for the last 20 years". He added: "It's a bit like living under the Stasi. You never know when you haven't got a long lens in the bushes at the end of my road or in a car … I've had my phone hacked, I've had the police come and tell me that now. They're always looking for anyone you may have been in contact with." Grant said that it would be "wonderful" if newspapers closed as a result of injunctions . "It's fabulous that people can go to a judge and stop these things being printed, and it's wonderful that ultimately if it goes on like that the worst of the tabloids will pretty much go out of business, because there's very little real journalism done in those papers now.

"It's mainly stealing successful people's privacy and selling it," he said. At least 24 breach of privacy claims have been lodged against the News of the World by celebrities who believe their mobile phone voicemails were eavesdropped on using stolen information, such as pin codes, obtained by Mulcaire. The newspaper has admitted hacking at least eight public figures' voicemails.

Rupert Murdoch's News International announced last month it was setting up a £20m compensation fund.

A News International spokeswoman said: "We're pleased we have managed to bring this case to a satisfactory conclusion. Several weeks ago we admitted liability in certain cases and offered a genuine and unreserved apology. We hope to resolve other cases swiftly.

"For the record, reports that we have been ordered to disclose 8,000 emails to Ms Miller are inaccurate. The error stems from a reference in court to the fact that a total of 8,000 emails were being searched to ascertain whether any Sienna Miller related material was amongst them."

A statement from both Miller and NGN will be read to the court at a hearing next Friday

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Al Gore hits out at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp

Former US vice-president says media giant is forcing his liberal Current TV service off air in Italy for hiring Keith Olbermann

By Dan Sabbagh


Thursday 19 May 2011 15.04 BST

Former US vice-president Al Gore has hit out at Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, accusing it of "an abuse of power" by forcing his liberal TV station off air in Italy because it did not fit in with the media giant's "ideological agenda".

In an interview with the Guardian, Gore said the Current TV news and documentary channel was told unexpectedly three weeks ago that it could no longer be carried by Sky Italia because of its decision to hire a US left-leaning commentator often critical of Murdoch's company.

He added that the decision reflected how News Corporation operated worldwide. "News Corporation is an international conglomerate with an ideological agenda. It seeks political power in every nation they operate. They wield that power to shut down voices that disagree with the agenda of Rupert Murdoch," Gore said.

The decision, he added, was "a complete shock" but Current TV executives were told "off the record that the decision was taken on News Corp instructions from New York". The primary reason, he said, was "because Current is launching Keith Olbermann next month".

Olbermann – who styles himself as a leftwing alternative to the rightwing shock jock journalism of Fox News – worked at rival cable news network MSNBC until he left abruptly in January. This came after he was briefly suspended by MSNBC in November for making donations to three Democratic candidates in the midterm elections without seeking prior approval, in breach of company rules. "Olbermann has often been critical of News Corporation," Gore added.

Current TV broadcasts around the world, including the UK, but the channel has been more successful in Italy, where it claims that "one in three" Sky Italia viewers watch at some point during the week. However, Gore said that decision to not renew the channel's existing distribution deal also had implications in the UK – where News Corp's takeover of BSkyB is under review on the grounds of "media plurality".

"I know that News Corp is close to reaching an agreement to buy BSkyB. Now I may not be a party to that debate, but if anybody believes that [News Corp] will remain hands off if there are diverse opinions that do not agree with its ideological agenda then they are fools. This is proof positive of their abuse of power," Gore said.

However, Current TV's existing agreement with BSkyB does not expire until next year, so there is no immediate threat to its UK position on the satellite service in this country.

Gore also said he understood there has been "a rapprochement" in the struggle between News Corp and Silvio Berlusconi's media empire in Italy. Current TV has run several documentaries critical of the Italian premier and his government. "Sky Italia is in the midst of negotiations to enter the digital terrestrial television market and the need Berlusconi's support," he said.

Gore added that he had a "pleasant personal relationship" with Murdoch dating back to the former vice-president's time in the White House, and said that he wasn't sure exactly on whose authority the decision was made to order Current TV off the air in Italy. He said that he didn't want "to make this ad hominem" but added it was clear that Murdoch and News Corp had too much power.

Programming aired by Current TV in Italy has included Citizen Berlusconi, a documentary first produced by the US PBS network, and about the consequences of handing a media mogul formal political power.

"Anglo-American political theory highlights the problem. Too much power in the hands of one person is dangerous, no matter the ideology," Gore said. "The conversation of democracy, which used to happen in newspapers or in other public places now happens on the television screen. But this is a public space in which gatekeepers charge rents."

He cited the example of the 2003 Iraq war, in which News Corp had acted as "an aggressive cheerleader" for the US-led invasion, to the point where "three quarters of the American public got the impression that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attacks of 2001". This journalism, Gore said, "has consequences" and he argued that "our democracy is much better when there are diverse viewpoints" to inform decision-making.

News Corp had not returned a request for comment at time of publication

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Phone-hacking investigation uncovers hundreds more examples of practice

True extent of investigator Glenn Mulcaire's activities only now becoming apparent as Operation Wheeting continues

By James Robinson


Friday 20 May 2011 21.00 BST

The Metropolitan police holds evidence that could prove hundreds of people had their phones hacked by the News of the World, Scotland Yard told the high court, a far greater number than had previously been believed.

Barristers for the Metropolitan police said notes seized from Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator on the paper's books, showed he made a note of 149 mobile phone pin numbers and around 400 unique voicemail numbers. Both are used to access messages left on mobile phones.

Jason Beer QC, for the Metropolitan police, told a high court hearing the figures were: "a snap shot in time as of last week". Until Friday, the police had maintained Mulcaire kept a record of just 91 pin numbers.

The true extent of the investigator's activities is only now becoming apparent as Operation Wheeting, the new police investigation into phone-hacking at the News of the World which began in January, continues. Mulcaire's targets included the actor Jude Law, who is suing the paper for breach of privacy.

Law's case was joined the list of test cases that will be tried next year, along with that of Labour MP Chris Bryant, a former Europe minister.

Justice Vos, the judge assigned to take charge of all the hacking claims, said they would be added to three other test cases which were chosen last month – those of the agent Sky Andrew, interior designer Kelly Hoppen and football pundit Andy Gray.

Law's former girlfriend Sienna Miller was also scheduled to have her case against the News of the World heard next year but she indicated last week she would accept damages of £100,000 from the paper's publisher, News Group Newspapers.

The damages that will be awarded in each of the fives test cases, should they be successful, are likely to vary because each of them alleges a different level of criminal wrongdoing by Mulcaire and the News of the World.

Vos raised the prospect of imposing exemplary damages on parent company News International. They are set at a level high enough to punish the company for its behaviour and deter others from committing the same crime, and are often a percentage of a company's profits.

"It's one thing for a journalist to say 'I'm desperate to get a story'," Vos said. "It's another thing for the chief executive of a company to say 'I'm desperate to make more money by getting stories in this evil way'."

Vos added: "Was there a conspiracy between Mulcaire and News Group Newspapers to intercept voicemail messages? The answer is yes there was. Was it an agreement between the board of directors of NGN? ... I will have to determine the answer."

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