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Entries in Tabloid (4)

Tuesday
Jul122011

Murdoch Hack Attack: More Papers Caught in Scandal

Warren Little/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Fresh allegations that not one but three of Rupert Murdoch's newspapers had been involved in illegal activities have marred the media mogul's multi-billion dollar deal to buy full control of British Sky Broadcasting.

Monday's allegations that the Sunday Times and Sun newspapers allegedly used deception to try to obtain former Prime Minister Gordon Brown's private financial records was the latest in an unfolding scandal that saw Murdoch's News of the World fold last Sunday.

News International's Sunday Times allegedly had details that Brown obtained an apartment from controversial publishing magnate and former member of parliament Robert Maxwell for a "knock-down price," according to the BBC.

Brown told the BBC that he believes that the paper was "trying to prove a point," that it was "completely wrong" and wanted to bring him down in his then role as Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The Sun went much further when it allegedly stole Brown's family's medical records.  Though no one but his family knew in 2006 that Brown's newborn baby son, Fraser, had cystic fibrosis, the Sun splashed the exclusive across its front page in November 2006.

"Sarah and I were incredibly upset about it," said Brown.  "We were thinking about his long-term future, we were thinking about our family," Brown told BBC News, adding that he was in tears when he was told by News International journalists that the Sun had the information about his son's condition.

The Sun claimed that "the story was used to increase national understanding of the condition, in partnership with the Cystic Fibrosis Trust."

News International allegedly was aware as far back as 2007 about questionable practices used by the News of the World to obtain the confidential information about the royals. Such a breach, if true, represents a huge lapse in security and a threat to Queen Elizabeth.

If News Corp. did in fact know of the News of the World's practices, it did nothing.

In emails received by police last month, Clive Goodman -- the paper's recently arrested royals reporter -- requested cash from the now-disgraced editor Andy Coulson to buy a top secret directory called the "Green Book," according to the BBC.  The directory contained all the confidential phone numbers of the royal family and their staff.

In the email, Goodman allegedly said that a royal protection officer had stolen a copy and wanted £1000 for it.

The unfolding scandal couldn't come at a worst time for Murdoch, who days ago believed he would be closing one of the biggest deals of his life.  The worldwide media mogul was on the verge of buying full control of British Sky Broadcasting, Britain's biggest commercial network.

The British government signaled Monday that it would delay -- and possibly halt altogether -- Murdoch's $19 billion deal to purchase BSkyB as a result of the public outrage surrounding the growing scandal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul112011

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

Friday
Jul082011

British PM Calls for Investigation, Reform after Press Hacking Scandal

Peter Macdiarmid/WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron is calling for a full investigation into the phone hacking scandal revolving around Britain's highest circulated newspaper, News of the World.  

The tabloid has come under fire recently for allegedly hacking into the cellphones of a missing schoolgirl and grieving families of terror victims, among others, in an effort to produce and break stories.  James Murdoch, the owner of the paper, announced Thursday that the final issue of News of the World would be published on Sunday.

"That these people could have had their phones hacked into in order to generate stories for a newspaper is simply disgusting," Cameron said, speaking before the press on Friday.

Vowing change, the prime minister said, "I want a police that's proved itself beyond reproach.  A political system that people think is on their side and a press that is -- yes -- free and vigorous, that investigates and entertains, that holds those in power to account and occasionally, maybe even regularly, drives them completely mad.  But in the end we need a free press that is also clean and trustworthy."

Meanwhile, Cameron's former Chief of Communications, Andy Coulson, was arrested in the U.K. on Friday for corruption allegations and conspiring to intercept communications.  Coulson was appointed to the position after working for several years as an editor for News of the World.  He stepped down as the prime minister's spokesman in January of 2011.

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband had asked Cameron to apologize for the "appalling error of judgement" he committed in hiring Coulson, but the prime minister defended his decision at Friday's news conference.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul052011

Murdered Girl's Phone Hacked; Tabloid Accused

Comstock/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A story that has gripped Britain for a decade has now taken a sickening twist. London's News of the World, a weekly tabloid focused on celebrity and crime scoops, is accused of hacking into the voicemail of a missing teenage girl in pursuit of exclusive stories.

The case involves 13-year-old Milly Dowler, who disappeared in March 2002. Her remains were found southwest of London six months later. Just two weeks ago, a convicted double murderer was found guilty of killing Dowler and the case was closed. But it is now back in the headlines with revelations that reporters not only listened to the teenager's voicemail, but deleted voicemail messages -- leading her parents to believe she was still alive and potentially obstructing the police investigation into her disappearance.

Rebekah Brooks, Chief Executive of News International, the company that owns the paper, emailed her staff Tuesday about the allegation, saying she was "sickened that these events are alleged to have happened." She said, "If the accusations are true, the devastating effect on Milly Dowler's family is unforgivable." Brooks, who was editor of the tabloid at the time, is now media mogul Rupert Murdoch's top lieutenant. There is a rising chorus of calls for her resignation, with critics saying she either knew about the hacking and did nothing, or simply did not know what her paper was doing in its aggressive pursuit of a story.

"It is distress heaped upon tragedy to learn that the News of the World had no humanity at such a terrible time," said Mark Lewis, lawyer for the Dowler family. "The fact that they were prepared to act in such a heinous way that could have jeopardized the police investigation and give them false hope is despicable."

Prime Minister David Cameron said Tuesday he was shocked and called for a thorough police inquiry into the accusations.

"What you're looking at here is with [tabloid] papers is a furiously competitive world where the paper circulation was falling," George Brock, professor and head of journalism at City University of London, told ABC News.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio