Dear Commons Community,
As a follow-up to the phone hacking scandal involving Rupert Murdoch and his New Corporation-owned tabloids in the United Kingdom, eight senior level News Corporation employees including former editors Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, were indicted on criminal charges for their participation in the hacking activities. The New York Times is reporting that:
“The indictments did not surprise executives at News Corporation, the New York media conglomerate that owns the British papers, who are readying the split of the company’s newspapers from its more lucrative entertainment assets. The charges, in part, played into the timing of Mr. Murdoch’s finally agreeing to the split, which his top lieutenants had proposed for years, a person familiar with the thinking at the company said.
“You don’t get an indictment like this without a lot of preliminary discussions,” said this person, who could not comment on the record about private discussions. “They knew exactly, exactly what was coming and how bad it would look.”
“Alison Levitt, chief legal adviser at the Crown Prosecution Service, traced the scope of what lies ahead with a broad account on Tuesday of the number of confirmed victims of the phone hacking — more than 600, by the prosecutors’ count.
Sue Akers, the senior Scotland Yard officer overseeing the police investigations, told the Leveson inquiry on Monday that the police had notified 2,615 people that they may have been targets of the voice-mail interceptions.
In addition to Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old schoolgirl who disappeared in 2002 and was found murdered and who police said her cellphone was hacked, a number of prominent people in government and the entertainment industry are among the victims.
The article also commented that:
“Besides shaking Mr. Murdoch’s global empire to its core, the British scandal has forced News Corporation to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in legal costs, out-of-court settlements and payoffs to employees who have been laid off, Mr. Murdoch testified this year…And that price, analysts say, is likely to exceed a billion dollars as lawsuits and settlements proliferate.”
What is most troublesome, is that phone hacking was not the work of a rogue individual or two but was the basic mode of the operation of the newspapers involved. Murdoch and his cohorts deserve the shame that have been heaped upon them and their companies.