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Entries in Phone Hacking (19)

Friday
Feb082013

Duchess Sarah Ferguson Settles Phone-Hacking Dispute with Newspaper Group

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Sarah Ferguson has settled her phone-hacking legal claim against the publishers of the now defunct British tabloid The News of the World.

Ferguson, the Duchess of York, received a public apology and undisclosed damages in an out-of-court settlement from Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers, according to The Guardian.

She was among the victims of the illegal practice that led to the closure of the paper in 2011.

A total of 144 people, including singer James Blunt and actor Hugh Grant, have so far settled claims over phone hacking with the publisher, The Guardian reports.

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Tuesday
Jul242012

Eight Charged in Rupert Murdoch Hacking Scandal

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- After more than a year in the headlines, eight of Rupert Murdoch’s reporters and editors in Britain have been charged with hacking the voicemails of more than 600 people over a period of five years -- all in search of sensational stories for Murdoch’s now-shuttered tabloid The News of the World.

“There is sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of conviction inrelation to one or more offenses,” said Crown Prosecutor Alison Levitt at a news conference Tuesday morning.

Among those charged are Andy Coulson, former aide to Britain’s prime minister and ex-editor of The News of the World, and Rebekah Brooks, Murdoch’s trusted head of British operations.

The story exploded in Britain last year when it was revealed that The News of the World had hacked the phone of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler and reported on the desperate messages left by her parents. When her family noticed that voicemails were being deleted from her phone, they were convinced she was alive. But, in fact, she had been murdered.

That revelation revolted the entire country and sparked what has been the decline of Murdoch’s global media empire.

In a statement Tuesday, Brooks denied the accusations, saying she was “distressed and angry” at prosecutors’ decision to charge her.

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Tuesday
May152012

Rebekah Brooks to Be Charged in Phone Hacking Case

MAX NASH/AFP/Getty ImagesUPDATE: Former tabloid editor Rebekah Brooks has been formally charged as part of the phone hacking investigation taking place in Britain.

(LONDON) -- Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of the now-defunct News of the World, will be charged with perverting the course of justice, prosecutors announced on Tuesday.

Her husband, along with four others, will also be charged.

The charges stem from the police investigation into the phone hacking scandal that forced the closure of the tabloid.  All six are accused of concealing documents, computers and other relevant materials from police.

Before the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced the charges, Brooks and her husband released a statement, saying: "We have this morning been informed by the Office of the Department of Public Prosecutions that we are to be charged with perverting the course of justice.  We deplore this weak and unjust decision."

The couple added, "After the further unprecedented posturing of the CPS we will respond later today after our return from the police station."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr262012

Rupert Murdoch Apologizes, Claims He Was Victim to Cover Up

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- “All I can do is apologize,” Rupert Murdoch said Thursday as he conceded he could have done more to stop the hacking scandal that has engulfed his media empire and destroyed so many careers.

During Britain’s media ethics inquiry Thursday morning, Murdoch claimed he and his son were the victims of a cover up about the extent of phone hacking at their now-shuttered London tabloid the News of the World.

But he also pleaded ignorance.

“The senior executives were all misinformed, and shielded from anything that was going on there,” Murdoch told the inquiry.  “I do blame one or two people for who perhaps I shouldn’t name, because for all I know they may be arrested yet.  But there’s no question in my mind that maybe even the editor, but certainly beyond that, someone took charge of a cover-up, which we were victim to and I regret.”

Although he wouldn’t say who the two are, he referred to a “clever lawyer” who was friends with journalists connected to the hacking.

“This person forbade them to go to (News International chief executive) Mrs. [Rebekah] Brooks or (Murdoch’s son) James,” he testified.

There was a flash of anger at the commission counsel, James Jay, when he insinuated that Murdoch was part of the cover up.  Murdoch apologized, “I take that back,” and reached out his hand to Jay.

He went on to offer contrition.

“I am guilty of not paying enough attention to what was going on at the News of the World” Murdoch said.  “All I can do is apologize to a lot of people -- including all the innocent people at the News of the World who lost their jobs.”

There was also tough questioning from inquiry chair Lord Justice Leveson, who asked Murdoch if he “really did try to understand what was going on, or you felt you didn’t really feel the need to understand what was going on, it’s over, move on?”

Murdoch answered, “I have to admit that some newspapers are closer to my heart.  I also have to say that I failed.  And I am very sorry about it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr252012

Damning Emails Put Murdochs, UK Government Back in Headlines

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- After simmering on the backburner for months, the Murdoch scandal is back on the front pages of London’s newspapers on Wednesday with damning revelations that are igniting a new crisis for British Prime Minister David Cameron and his government.

More than 170 pages of James Murdoch’s emails have been released.  They show that senior staff in the office of Britain’s Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt’s were repeatedly giving confidential information to Murdoch’s lobbyist during critical negotiations over News Corps’ $13 billion efforts to take over BSkyB, Britain’s powerful and highly profitable satellite broadcaster.

Publicly, Hunt had insisted that he was acting independently and impartially, but the emails suggest he was secretly acting in the interest of the Murdochs.

On Wednesday, one of Hunt’s senior advisors resigned.  Now, there are widespread calls for Hunt’s resignation.  Hunt has dismissed those calls, telling parliament, “The idea that I was backing this bid is laughable.”

One email quotes Hunt referring to Murdoch’s efforts to push through the takeover, saying  “we’d get there in the end,” and adding he “shared” News Corporation’s objective.

But the smoking gun is in an email sent by Murdoch’s lobbyist the day before Hunt was to give a key speech in parliament about the takeover. 

The lobbyist wrote to James Murdoch: "Managed to get some infos [sic] on the plans for tomorrow (although absolutely illegal…!)”

The email goes on to give accurate information about what the minister would be saying a day later -- a serious breach of parliamentary privilege in Britain and explicit proof that the Murdochs were working inside the Cameron government.

That lead to screaming headlines in Wednesday morning’s London papers.

In parliament Wednesday, Opposition Leader Ed Miliband pounced on the revelations, saying a “shadow of sleaze” hangs over the Cameron government.

Not far from Westminster, James Murdoch’s father, Rupert, the scion of News Corp, began his first day of testimony at Britain’s media ethics inquiry.  The 81-year-old was sharp, focused and calm under examination.  He did get a little testy when pushed by what the inquiry counsel called subtle “sinister inferences” about his relationship with senior Conservative politicians in Britain.

“I’m afraid I don’t have much subtlety in me,” Murdoch responded.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr242012

James Murdoch Testifies in Leveson Inquiry in UK

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images(LONDON) -- Rupert Murdoch and his son James are appearing before a British inquiry about press standards less than a year after being questioned at a parliamentary special committee over evidence of phone hacking at their defunct tabloid News of the World.

The widening hacking scandal rocked the media and police in a country where Murdoch owns many of the largest newspapers. 

James Murdoch is appearing first on Tuesday and Rupert Murdoch is scheduled to appear Wednesday and Thursday morning if necessary, the Guardian reported.

According to Hugh Tomlinson of the Queen's Council, the now defunct News of the World allegedly hacked the phones of 4,791 people, from stars to crime victims, to get juicy stories -- all with the encouragement of top editors at the paper and aided by some in the police force.

Rupert Murdoch is also expected to be grilled over allegations of impropriety at his other newspapers.

In February 2012, five employees of the British newspaper The Sun were arrested for allegededly making payments to public officials.  Four former and current Sun journalists were held in January, the BBC reported.

The Leveson inquiry, initiated by British Prime Minister David Cameron following the phone-hacking scandal, has heard from more than 100 witnesses since evidence hearings began in November, the Guardian reported.

Rupert Murdoch made a rare apology in British newspapers last year before echoing the sentiment at a parliamentary hearing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr122012

Murdoch Hacking Scandal Comes to America

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The hacking scandal rocking media mogul Rupert Murdoch's British tabloids is coming to America.

High-profile British attorney Mark Lewis is planning for the first time to sue in the United States on behalf of alleged hacking victims, his office confirms. The legal action would be the first to strike at the heart of Murdoch's global media empire.

Lewis will sue on behalf of three people, none of whom have yet been identified. At least one is thought to be American.

"Some of them were in America at the time, either traveling or resident there," Lewis told the BBC.

It's still not clear when and where the legal action would be filed.

Jack Horner, a vice president of corporate communications at News Corp., said the company would not comment on the pending court action. News Corp. is the parent company of News International, the Murdoch family's British newspaper subsidiary. News Corp. also owns the Fox News Channel.

Mark Lewis has been a thorn in Rupert Murdoch's side since the hacking scandal emerged several years ago. He has filed suits on behalf of a number of hacking victims, including a 2007 lawsuit on behalf of a hacked soccer official. That case is thought to be the first legal action in the hacking scandal.

Lewis also represents the family of Milly Dowler, the abducted teen who was found murdered outside London in 2002. Dowler's voice mail was thought to have been hacked after she disappeared. The case sparked public outrage at the tabloid press and the furor eventually led to the closure of News of the World.

News International has paid out millions in compensation settlements in the wake of the hacking scandal, with some British media reporting that the company offered at least $3 million to the Dowler family.

More than 4,000 people have been identified by police as possible victims of phone hacking, according to the BBC.

Scotland Yard is currently conducting three investigations relating to the scandal and a judge-led inquiry has been examining relations between the press, politicians and police.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Feb112012

Police Arrest Employees from Murdoch's The Sun Newspaper

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Authorities arrested eight people Saturday, including five employees from Rupert Murdoch's The Sun newspaper, in connection to the phone hacking and corruption scandal, according to police and representatives from News Corporation.

Also arrested was a police officer, a member of the armed services and an employee of the Ministry of Defense, as authorities investigate bribery claims of public officials by journalists. Authorities say British police searched the offices of Murdoch's News Corporation Saturday morning for materials relating to suspected payments to police officers and public officials.

According to police, information leading to the arrests was provided by the Management and Standards Committee, a group established by News Corporation to investigate the corruption scandal.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan192012

Jude Law Settles Hacking Suits Against Murdoch’s Corp.

BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Actor Jude Law has settled his lawsuit against Rupert Murdoch’s News International over illegal phone hacking allegations.

The star of the Sherlock Holmes series and The Holiday is one of dozens of people to receive payouts after being hacked by staff at the now-defunct News of the World tabloid newspaper.  In the deal announced in court, Law received $200,000 plus attorneys’ fees.  His ex-wife Sadie Frost settled for $77,000.

Law was not in court for the proceedings, but a statement by the actor was read in front of a courtroom packed with journalists and lawyers.  In it, Law said his phone was hacked repeatedly between 2003 and 2006, including while he was in the U.S., at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

The court heard statements from 18 victims of hacking. Only one victim, British politician Chris Bryant, appeared in court. After each statement, News International lawyers admitted the company’s guilt, apologized and announced monetary damages.

News International is not commenting on the settlements. Legal experts say the company is effectively “waving the white flag” and has no interest in putting the paper’s former reporters and editors on the stand.

Of the more than 60 lawsuits filed against the company so far, at least 10 still have not been settled and are scheduled for trial Feb. 13.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec202011

Piers Morgan On the Defensive in Phone Hacking Inquiry

Jordan Strauss/WireImage(LONDON) -- Former News of the World editor Piers Morgan appeared to backpedal before a British ethics inquiry Tuesday, first saying that he didn't believe he had listened to any hacked phone messages, then refusing to discuss how he came to hear a taped conversation between Paul McCartney and Heather Mills.

"I can't discuss where I heard that tape or who made it," Morgan told the Leveson Inquiry looking into Britain's phone hacking scandal. Asked if he listened to a tape of a phone message, Morgan replied, "Yes, I believe it was yes. I'm not going to discuss where I heard it or who played it to me."

When the CNN host was asked by Lord Justice Brian Leveson whether he thought it was unethical to listen to someone else's message, Morgan said, "It doesn't necessarily follow that listening to someone else talking to someone else is unethical."

Leveson responded that he would be "perfectly happy" to call Mills to ask her whether she gave Morgan permission to listen to her calls, to which Morgan replied, "Well, what do you expect me to say? I'm not going into details."

Mills has previously said that Morgan could not have obtained her voice mail message honestly.

Morgan appeared on the defensive after admitting under persistent questioning that he had heard the tortured phone message between Mills and McCartney as their marriage was unraveling. Earlier he had testified that he did not believe he had listened to any illegally obtained phone messages.

Morgan has steadfastly denied knowledge of phone hacking by his staff when he was editor of two of Rupert Murdoch's British tabloids, News of the World and the Daily Mirror.

The inquiry was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron after it was made public that News of the World had illegally eavesdropped on the voice mail messages of celebrities and other public figures.

Actors Hugh Grant and Sienna Miller, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and singer Charlotte Church have all spoken before the inquiry about widespread press abuse, while executives and lawyers for Murdoch's News Corp. have defended the tabloid.

Morgan has been under scrutiny since the scandal broke over the summer.

Back in July, British political blogger Paul Staines, who blogs under the name Guido Fawkes, claimed to have discovered a 2009 recording where some interpret Morgan as admitting knowledge of hacking and other unsavory activities by Murdoch journalists.

The former Fleet Street editor has also fought off accusations from James Hipwell, a former Daily Mirror financial columnist who called illegal phone hacking "endemic" during Morgan's tenure. Hipwell is scheduled to testify Wednesday before the inquiry. 

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