Entries in scandal (8)


Women in Secret Service Scandal Not Tied to Terrorism, Cartels

USSS(WASHINGTON) -- Investigators have found that nine of the Colombian women who were drinking and partying with Secret Service personnel last month in Colombia were paid for their services, Congressional sources tell ABC News. 

The Secret Service has now interviewed most of the women, who range in age from 20 to 39, and none were found to have any ties to terrorist organizations or drug cartels.

That information has allayed fears on Capitol Hill that the wild night of partying by Secret Service personnel in Colombia compromised the President’s safety, or national security.

The scandal unfolded when 175 Secret Service agents and officers traveled to Cartagena, Colombia last month to make advance preparations for President Obama’s trip to the Summit of the Americas.  The prostitution allegations became public when a Colombian woman at the Hotel Caribe complained to police that a Secret Service employee did not pay her the agreed-upon price for her services.  The police informed U.S. Embassy officials, and the seedy details of agents’ drinking heavily, visiting strip clubs, and bringing escorts back to the Hotel Caribe became an international scandal.

The Secret Service also provided Congressional investigators with more details of who exactly was involved with the escorts: two of the 12 employees were supervisors; three were snipers and another three were members of a Secret Service counter-assault team. Their careers ranged in length from two years to 22 years.  Nine of the 12 people involved took polygraph exams, but three refused – including the supervisory agent who had the original dispute over payment with the Colombian escort. Nine of the 12 involved have resigned or been fired by the Secret Service, two agents have been cleared, and one is appealing disciplinary action.

Last Friday, the Secret Service announced that all agents must complete ethics training before being eligible for foreign travel.

The new rules say:

  • “Patronization of non-reputable establishments is prohibited.
  • “Alcohol may not be consumed at the protectee hotel once the protective visit has begun.
  • “Foreign nationals, excluding hotel staff and official counterparts, are prohibited in your hotel room.”
  • “Alcohol may only be consumed in moderate amounts while off-duty on … assignment and alcohol use is prohibited within 10 hours of reporting for duty.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Former 'News of the World' Reporter's Letter: Hacking 'Widely Discussed'

Warren Little/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Adding onto the phone hacking scandal surrounding Britain's now defunct News of the World, a letter from a former journalist of the tabloid released by the British Parliament on Tuesday claims that his fellow employees were aware of the illegal practices the paper is charged with committing.

Clive Goodman, who was imprisoned after pleading guilty to intercepting voicemail messages and subsequently fired from the paper for "alleged gross misconduct," wrote the letter to News International four years ago appealing against his dismissal.

In a letter addressed to Daniel Cloke on March 2, 2007, Goodman wrote, "The decision is inconsistent because [redacted] and other members of staff were carrying out the same illegal procedures."

Click here to see the documents uploaded by the British Parliament.  (To read Goodman's letter, jump ahead to page 39)

He went on to say, ""This practice was widely discussed in the daily editorial conference, until explicit reference to it was banned by the Editor.  As far as I am aware, no other member of staff has faced disciplinary action, much less dismissal."

News International had previously said that Goodman was the only reporter involved in phone hacking.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sarah Ferguson Storms Off Interview over Scandal Questioning

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The scandal surrounding Sarah Ferguson's 2010 News of the World "cash-for-access" sting has reemerged after she reportedly stormed out of an Australian television interview last week when a reporter tried to show her the notorious footage of her taking money from an undercover reporter.

A promotional spot for the controversial interview, taped for the 60 Minutes program on Australia's Channel Nine, touts the segment as "the weirdest interview you will ever see" and asks "what sent Fergie completely off the rails?"

In the advertisement, Ferguson is seen wagging her finger at reporter Michael Usher, rolling her eyes and saying "delete that bit."

In 2010, a reporter from the U.K.'s now shuttered News of the World tabloid ran a sting on the Duchess of York, where she was filmed offering access to her former husband Prince Andrew for £500,000 to the reporter who she thought was an Indian businessman.

Ferguson's manager John Scott has reportedly stated that the Duchess of York's statements in the upcoming 60 Minutes interview are taken out of context and demanded that that they be edited out of the final broadcast of the interview.  Scott lashed out at 60 Minutes executive producer Hamish Thomson about the interview, which he refers to as an "ambush" and "entrapment."

"[Thomson] hasn't had the decency to get back to me.  Nor has [Nine Network chief executive] David Gyngell, despite showing the Duchess in the worst possible light," Scott told British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

"We had gone through all the questions and subject matter beforehand and filmed all the walking in the park footage before we sat down.  She did walk out when she was ambushed -- no, it was entrapment -- but after cooling down she said to me, 'F*** them, let's do this', and she did, but it was a banal interview and her demeanor reflected that," Scott said.

Thomson shot back at Scott's statements on Thursday, saying that it was in no way entrapment of Ferguson.

"She agreed to talk about the issue, as she has already extensively done, so it certainly wasn't entrapment," Thomson said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Investigation of Britain's Phone Hacking Scandal Begins

Warren Little/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The inquiry into Britain's phone hacking scandal, which will determine whether the country needs to ramp up its media regulation, officially kicked off on Thursday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called for the investigation earlier this month in response to allegations that the country's highest circulated newspaper, News of the World, hacked into the cellphones of a missing schoolgirl and grieving families of terror victims, among others, in an effort to produce and break stories.

The panel, led by senior judge Brian Leveson, will start by examining whether the current self-regulation in the British press industry needs any modifications.

"My goal must be to consider what lessons if any may be learned from past events, and what recommendations if any should be made for the future," Leveson said.

Later on, the panel will also look at relations among the press, police, and politicians. Scotland Yard suffered a black eye in the scandal as well, as police officers have been accused of taking bribes in exchange for leaking details to former News of the World reporters. 

It will have the power to compel witnesses to appear.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


News Int'l CEO Rebekah Brooks Resigns Amid Hacking Scandal

MAX NASH/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- In the midst of the hacking scandal surrounding Britain's famed tabloid News of the World, the chief executive of News International -- the company that owns the paper -- has resigned.

In a letter sent to her staff on Friday, Rebekah Brooks announced, "I have given Rupert and James Murdoch my resignation.  While it has been a subject of discussion, this time my resignation has been accepted."

Despite growing calls for Brooks' dismissal, the executive remained at her position because she "believed that the right and responsible action has been to lead us through the heat of the crisis."  But, she admitted in the letter, that her "desire to remain on the bridge has made me a focal point of the debate," and has detracted "attention from all our honest endeavours to fix the problems of the past."

"I now need to concentrate on correcting the distortions and rebutting the allegations about my record as a journalist, an editor and executive," Brooks said, adding that the "resignation makes it possible for me to have the freedom and the time to give my full cooperation to all the current and future inquiries."

The executive also apologized to the victims of the scandal, saying, "I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt and I want to reiterate how sorry I am for what we now know to have taken place."

News of the World is accused of hacking into the cellphones of murder victims, terrorism victims and their families, and celebrities -- among others -- in an effort to produce and break stories.  The tabloid has since been shut down.  Its final issue hit newsstands on July 10.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tabloid Scandal: Will Rupert Murdoch's Company Go Down?

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- As the famed U.K. tabloid News of the World landed on British newsstands for the last time, its owner, Rupert Murdoch, tried to stabilize his global media empire after a wide-ranging scandal that has been dubbed "Britain's Watergate."

While Murdoch scrambled to ensure that the taint on his $33 billion empire's reputation in the U.K. did not spread across the globe, the widening scandal has already resulted in three arrests and could lead to a dozen more by the end of the week, including several police officers who allegedly took regular bribes from the paper in exchange for news scoops, and Murdoch's son James Murdoch, a chairman at News International.

Rupert Murdoch's plan to take control of Britain's BSkyB satellite network could be threatened too, as the News of the World phone hacking scandal has highlighted what many in the U.K. see as a near monopoly by Murdoch companies on the nation's media.

The British government has signaled that the $19 billion deal to purchase BSkyB may be halted as a result of the growing outrage surrounding Murdoch's company practices.  If the deal goes through, it would give Murdoch 100 percent control of BSkyB in which he already holds a stake.

Ed Miliband, the leader of the opposition Labor Party, told the BBC that such a deal should not be allowed to go through in the midst of an ongoing investigation into News International's business practices.

"The idea that this organization, which engaged in these terrible practices, should be allowed to take over BSkyB, to get that 100 percent stake, without the criminal investigation having been completed ... frankly that just won't wash with the public," Miliband said.

The best-selling News of the World weekly newspaper shut down after 168 years, leaving its 270-person staff without jobs after it became embroiled in an epidemic of criminal activity in pursuit of stories -- including allegedly hacking the voicemails of murder victims, terrorist victims and their families, not to mention a number of celebrities.

A power network that includes Murdoch, British politicians and police is now accused of suppressing a full investigation, while former News of the World editor Andy Coulson and former royal editor Clive Goodman were arrested last week on charges related to the paper's hacking scandal.

This past weekend, Murdoch rushed to the east London headquarters of his News International Corp., which provides a whopping 40 percent of the newspapers sold in the U.K.  As he arrived, he was reading the final edition of the News of the World -- the paper that began his overseas expansion 42 years ago and helped him entrench himself in the British media world.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Three Sumo Wrestlers Admit to Fixing Matches in Japan

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TOKYO) -- A new match-fixing scandal is threatening to turn Japan's national sport -- sumo wrestling -- upside down, and Thursday, three wrestlers admitted to the allegations.

The revelations first surfaced Wednesday when police said they found text messages from wrestlers' cell phones detailing how to win and lose matches.  They included demands of payments of up to $6,000.  The phones were confiscated as part of a larger investigation into reports wrestlers bet on baseball games.  Now, 14 athletes and their elders stand accused of betraying fans.

Sumo Association Chair Hanerogama apologized Thursday, saying a full investigation was underway.  That apology came after the Minister in charge of sumo revealed three wrestlers had confessed to the allegations, a first in the sport's modern history. 

Match-fixing isn't illegal in Japan, but any appearance of staging threatens to tarnish a sport already rocked by scandal.  Last summer, Japan's national broadcaster NHK pulled the tournament off air, after wrestlers admitted to gambling on baseball games with members of organized crime.  That came months after the sport's grand champion retired following reports he assaulted a man outside a Tokyo nightclub.  Rampant marijuana use has also forced wrestlers out of the sport, and four years ago, sumo came under attack, following news a young trainee had died as a result of hazing.

The Sumo Association has launched a third party investigation and the board is questioning the wrestlers involved.  But it may be too little too late.  NHK has already cancelled an annual charity sumo event and Fuji TV network announced they would cancel a larger Japan sumo tournament.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japan's National Sport Rocked by Scandal

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Japan's national sport of sumo wrestling faces new allegations of bout-fixing, less than a year after a betting scandal rocked the Japan Sumo Association.

The latest investigation involves 13 wrestlers and stable masters accused of sending text messages to plan out matches.

In a press conference broadcast live on Japanese television Wednesday, Sumo Association chairman Hanaregoma apologized to fans and bowed before cameras.

"We cannot find the words to say sorry to our fans," Hanaregoma said. "I believe these are new allegations, not reports of something that's happened in the past."

The text messages detailing bout-fixing were found on cell phones police confiscated while investigating a sumo gambling ring, the sumo chair said.

National broadcaster NHK reported those messages laid out plans about which wrestler would attack and how the other would fall.

The texts also included the amount of payment involved. Hanaregoma acknowledged the authenticity of the e-mails in question, saying the association board had spoken with all but one of the accused.

But he said it was too early to draw any conclusions. The sumo association has launched an investigation, eager to quell concerns.

"There will be severe punishment for wrestlers [involved]," he said. "We don't take this lightly. We see it as a betrayal to fans."

Bout-fixing is the latest in a long list of scandals that have tainted the reputation of Japan's national pastime.

Last week, reports surfaced that three sumo wrestlers were involved in drunken incidents, including a late-night brawl.

Last summer, high-ranking wrestlers were accused of gambling on baseball games.

Several wrestlers were arrested, and sumo's close ties to organized crime exposed, in the investigation.
The scandal forced Japan's national broadcaster NHK to pull live coverage of the Nagoya tournament for the first time in 57 years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio