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Phone Hacking Report Threatens Murdoch's Grip On BSkyB

Rupert Murdoch

First Posted: 04/13/2012 4:54 am Updated: 04/14/2012 12:41 am


By Kate Holton and Georgina Prodhan

LONDON, April 13 (Reuters) - A British parliamentary report into a phone hacking scandal may lead eventually to News Corp being forced into cutting or selling its stake in the highly profitable pay-TV firm BSkyB, having already dropped its bid to buy it outright last year.

Parliament's culture committee is widely expected to criticise News Corp in its long-awaited report, raising the possibility that the British broadcast watchdog Ofcom will take action against Rupert Murdoch's media conglomerate.

News Corp lies at the centre of a long-running scandal over phone and computer hacking, in which journalists intercepted the voicemails of celebrities and crime victims, and now faces allegations that police officers were also paid for information that was used in newspaper reports.

Ofcom, which has to ensure that directors of TV companies are "fit and proper" to hold a broadcast licence, is already conducting its own investigation into News Corp and BSkyB's directors, including Murdoch's youngest son James, who resigned as BSkyB chairman last week but remains on the board.

Meanwhile, Murdoch's influential British newspapers, which were subdued for a time at the height of the scandal, have gone on the offensive against Conservative Prime Minister David Camerson and his coalition government.

"From a political standpoint, Rupert Murdoch's attacks could have really burned his bridges with the government," said Ian Whittaker, a media analyst at London investment bank Liberum Capital, who follows BSkyB.

"From the point of view of News Corp's opponents, if you wanted to lance this whole boil once and for all with News Corp and its stake in Sky, this would be a very good opportunity to do that," he said.

"The more this investigation goes on, and the more that is disclosed, the greater the risks for News Corp that it could be forced to sell its stake," he said. "It's not probable at the moment but increasingly possible."

Culture committee member Tom Watson, a dogged critic of the Murdochs, said Ofcom was awaiting the report. "Ofcom have already written to the committee at the start of this inquiry to say that as they seek to apply the 'fit and proper' test, that they will be looking at the report," he told Reuters.

The lawmakers may blame the culture at News Corp, following the scandal at the News of the World tabloid, which the group closed down last July. However, they are debating how far they can assign blame on individuals without prejudicing any future criminal trials.

After summoning father and son to parliament for a grilling last summer, the culture select committee could publish its findings and recommendations by the end of April. The government must respond within two months.

The committee has already accused News Corp of "collective amnesia" in a previous report after a host of company executives said they couldn't remember who had done what and when.

The final report may encourage Ofcom, which has kept a deceptively low profile so far, to take a fresh look at News Corp's 39 percent stake in BSkyB. Ofcom already reminded the public of its duty to ensure directors and owners of TV companies are "fit and proper" during News Corp's ultimately aborted bid to buy the rest of BSkyB in 2011.


GREAT INFLUENCE

News Corp also owns around 40 percent of the British national newspaper market, which has helped 81-year-old Murdoch senior to wield great influence for decades.

Tackling Murdoch's level of media ownership would, critics say, reduce his influence, which they also blame for an initial reluctance by the police and some politicians to investigate the hacking allegations thoroughly.

While the "fit and proper" test is vague and rarely applied, it has rattled investors in BSkyB. Ofcom played a role in forcing BSkyB to sell down a stake in commercial TV rival ITV in 2010, even though it was below a legal threshold.

Analysts now believe News Corp is more likely to be forced to reduce its stake in BSkyB than to be allowed to increase it, far less to pursue a full takeover again in the near future.

One executive who has worked alongside James Murdoch told Reuters that no one had realised last year quite how important the Ofcom investigation would become. "That's no longer the case," the executive said, requesting anonymity.

"Ofcom are likely to look very closely at what the select committee says," said Becket McGrath, a competition law partner at Edwards Wildman.

"While Ofcom taking away Sky's licence seems unlikely, if they find a wider problem concerning the corporate culture at News Corp, this may necessitate a stronger 'cordon sanitaire' between the companies to protect Sky from any fallout."

A separate judicial inquiry into press standards, which is due to hear evidence from Rupert and possibly James Murdoch later this month, is also likely to examine the report as it draws up new recommendations to regulate the press.

Both News Corp and BSkyB declined comment for this article.


DELAYS

The cross-party committee has taken months to produce its findings, which had been expected before Christmas, highlighting the difficulty that members from the Conservative and opposition Labour parties are having in agreeing their verdict.

The committee reopened its inquiry last year to find out whether it had been lied to in its original investigation.

Feeling that an important element of British democracy had been cast aside by a company that did not take the inquiry seriously, this time around the 11 members interviewed all News Corp's main executives from Rupert Murdoch down.

They will now decide whether James Murdoch, who stood down at BSkyB in the hope of shielding the company from the scandal, showed incompetence or dishonesty in his dealings.

The government is not obliged to follow the report's recommendations, but political analysts say the committee's power has already been demonstrated through its ability to summon and interrogate high-profile witnesses in hearings that have been broadcast around the world.

Two people familiar with workings of the committee said members wanting to criticise James Murdoch appeared to have the upper hand over those who accepted he did not realise the scale of the problem at the News of the World.

The Labour politicians have traditionally been more hostile to News Corp, but the committee, which also has one member from the junior coalition Liberal Democrat party, is not split strictly along party lines.

"If the Labour people all turn up on the day and can keep the Liberal Democrat MP on side, they should have the edge," one of the people familiar with the committee's workings said. "But they are unlikely to want to roll over the Conservatives completely; the committee tradition prefers consensus."

Watson told Reuters there might be some areas of contention, but declined to say what they were. "It's difficult to say, even now, but my sense is most of the report will be published with the unanimous support of all members. There might be one or two points where we disagree."


LEGAL DANGERS

The committee may be hamstrung by the fact that some of the executives it questioned have already been arrested, meaning it may have to tone down its language. Britain's attorney general is due to brief the committee on Monday, and is expected to advise its members on how to avoid prejudicing any future trial.

One way to do that, lawyers and academics say, would be to avoid specific criticism of individuals and instead target the company as a whole.

"In the longer term, the health of the media sector may benefit more if the committee focuses on the company and the structural issues that were discovered rather than individuals," said Jonathan Tonge, head of politics at Liverpool University.

Watson said caution was one reason why the report's publication has been repeatedly delayed. "The reason it's taking so long is we've been very, very cautious. We test the meaning of words within phrases within sentences within paragraphs."

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  • Phone Hacking/Bribery Scandal Timeline

    March 2002: Days after the disappearance of 13-year old Milly Dowler, British tabloid News of the World began intercepting Dowler's voicemail messages.

  • April 2002

    Police first became aware that the paper was listening to Dowler's messages after it reported that an employment agency had called Dowler about a job vacancy, but didn't take action "partly because their main focus was to find the missing schoolgirl and partly because this was only one example of tabloid misbehaviour," according to <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jul/04/milly-dowler-voicemail-hacked-news-of-world" target="_hplink">the Guardian</a>.

  • November 2005

    A News of the World item about his knee injury lead Prince William to believe that his aides' voicemail messages were being listened to by a third party. Three royal aides also noticed that new voicemails were showing up as old. Months later, the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/magazine/05hacking-t.html?pagewanted=1" target="_hplink">New York Times reported</a>, News of the World editor Clive Goodman wrote a piece about Prince Harry's visit to a strip club that quoted a voice mail message from his brother William word-for-word.

  • January 2007

    Goodman (right) and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire (left) received jail time for intercepting hundreds of voicemail messages meant for royal aides. The pair accessed the voice mailboxes of three aides 609 times, according to <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6301243.stm" target="_hplink">BBC News</a>. An earlier search of Mulcaire's home turned up "dozens of notebooks and two computers containing 2,978 complete or partial mobile phone numbers and 91 PIN codes; at least three names of other News of the World journalists; and 30 tape recordings made by Mulcaire," reports the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/magazine/05hacking-t.html?pagewanted=all" target="_hplink">Times</a>, but the pair were only charged for hacking the royal aides.

  • July 2009

    <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jul/08/murdoch-newspapers-phone-hacking " target="_hplink">New allegations from the Guardian</a> that NoW paid £1m to suppress evidence of phone hacking prompted Parliament to hold new hearings two years after News International exec Les Hinton (bottom left next to Murdoch) first testified that Goodman was the only person at NoW who knew about the hacking. At the new hearing, Coulson (top left) maintained that he was unaware of phone hacking during his time at NoW.

  • September 2010

    A <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/magazine/05hacking-t.html?pagewanted=1" target="_hplink">New York Times</a> piece alleged that phone hacking was pervasive at NoW and Coulson was aware of conversations about the practice, despite denying any knowledge about it. According to the Times: "'Everyone knew,' one longtime reporter said. 'The office cat knew,'" and reporters "described a frantic, sometimes degrading atmosphere in which some reporters openly pursued hacking or other improper tactics to satisfy demanding editors."

  • January 2011

    Coulson stepped down as communications chief, <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jan/21/andy-coulson-resignation-statement?INTCMP=SRCH" target="_hplink">blaming media speculation</a> that he knew about phone hacking during his tenure of NoW. News editor Ian Edmondson was fired after allegations of phone hacking, and new information prompted police to re-open the investigation on NoW.

  • April 2011

    The News of the World admitted its role in phone hacking in a <a href="http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/notw/public/nol_public_news/1266448/News-International-statement-News-of-the-World-says-sorry.html" target="_hplink">public apology</a> on its website and paper. Former editor Edmondson and reporters <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/apr/14/phone-hacking-james-weatherup " target="_hplink">James Weatherup</a> and Neville Thurlbeck were arrested on charges of intercepting voicemail messages.

  • June 2011

    <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jun/23/milly-dowler-murderer-levi-bellfield" target="_hplink">Levi Bellfield</a> was found guilty of murdering Milly Dowler, but a second charge that he had attempted to abduct another schoolgirl was abandoned after tabloid publicity made it impossible for the jury to reach a fair verdict. News of the World paid Sienna Miller £100,000 in damages after publishing 11 articles that used private information from her messages in 2005 and 2006, according to the <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jun/07/phone-hacking-news-of-the-world-sienna-miller">Guardian</a>.

  • July 2011

    Police notified Milly Dowler's family that NoW <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/04/news-of-the-world-hacked-milly-dowler_n_889809.html" target="_hplink">intercepted and deleted</a> the young woman's voice mail messages, destroying possible evidence in the search for her killer. New evidence also shows that NoW targeted <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14040841" target="_hplink">families of London's 7/7 bombings</a>.

  • July 8, 2011

    Andy Coulson, former communications chief to David Cameron and ex-editor of News of the World, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/07/08/andy-coulson-arrested-as-_n_893013.html#liveblog" target="_hplink">was arrested</a> in the investigation on phone hacking at NoW.

  • July 10, 2011

    The News of the World released its final issue after James Murdoch, head of parent company News Corp's operations in Europe, made the decision to shutter the paper. The move was expected to "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/07/news-of-the-world-closing_n_892239.html" target="_hplink">take some of the heat off immediate allegations about journalistic behavior and phone hacking</a>."

  • July 11, 2011

    <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/i-was-targeted-too-gordon-brown-to-say-2311980.html" target="_hplink">Multiple news</a> <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jul/11/phone-hacking-news-international-gordon-brown" target="_hplink">outlets</a> reported that the Sun and the Sunday Times, also owned by parent company News International, had been hacking the voice mail box and other records of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown for years. The Sunday Times allegedly posed as Brown to obtain his financial records, and the Sun allegedly received details about Brown's son's cystic fibrosis. The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/11/news-international-murdoch-gordon-brown-hacking_n_894588.html" target="_hplink">revelations</a> mark the first time allegations have targeted News International's other papers.

  • July 11, 2011

    News Corp <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/11/news-international-murdoch-gordon-brown-hacking_n_894588.html" target="_hplink">referred its bid to take over satellite broadcaster BSkyB</a> to the Competition Commission, which will delay the deal by at least six months as the company awaits regulatory clearance. British leaders have called for Murdoch to drop the bid, with Labor Party leader <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/blog/2011/jul/11/news-world-hacking-scandal-live#block-33" target="_hplink">Ed Millibrand calling the deal</a> "untenable" and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20110711/eu-britain-phone-hacking/" target="_hplink">Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg calling on News Corp</a> to "do the decent and sensible thing."

  • July 13, 2011

    Rupert Murdoch <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/13/rupert-murdoch-news-corp-drops-bid-bskyb_n_896896.html" target="_hplink">withdrew its $12 billion bid for BSkyB</a>, the largest pay-TV broadcaster in Britain, after the British government withdrew its support the day before. The deal, which would have substantially increased Murdoch's foothold in the British media, appeared like it would sail through until last week. News Corp, which began to seek full ownership of BSkyB in March 2011, will keep its 39% stake in the company.

  • July 14, 2011

    The FBI <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/14/fbi-news-corp-investigation_n_898653.html" target="_hplink">launched a probe into allegations that News Corp. attempted to hack the phones of September 11 victims</a> after Representative Peter King and other members of Congress wrote to FBI Director Robert Mueller demanding an investigation. Murdoch also <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/14/phone-hacking-murdoch-parliament-inquiry-rebekah-brooks_n_897998.html" target="_hplink">agreed give evidence before a parliamentary committee</a>. He had previously said that he was not available to attend the hearing, but relented after receiving a personal summons delivered to him and his son by a deputy sergeant-at-arms.

  • July 15, 2011

    <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304203304576448291349364376.html?mod=WSJ_hp_MIDDLETopStories" target="_hplink">Les Hinton announced his resignation as Dow Jones CEO</a>, and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/07/15/rebekah-brooks-resigns_n_899570.html?ir=Media&just_reloaded=1" target="_hplink">Rebekah Brooks stepped down as chief executive of News International</a>. Brooks presided over the News of the World during the phone hacking of murder victim Milly Dowler, and is scheduled to appear before a parliamentary committee next week. Murdoch also <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20110715/eu-britain-phone-hacking/" target="_hplink">met with Dowler's family to apologize</a>.

  • July 17, 2011

    Brooks was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/07/17/rebekah-brooks-arrested-i_n_900899.html?ir=Media" target="_hplink">arrested</a> in connection with the scandal, throwing her scheduled appearance before Parliament on Tuesday into serious doubt. In addition, Sir Paul Stephenson, the head of Scotland Yard, resigned his position, becoming the highest-profile public official yet to lose his job because of the scandal. (The Met has itself been plunged into crisis for its lax handling of the scandal and for the corrupt ties police officers developed to News International.)

  • July 18, 2011

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/18/britain-phone-hacking-scandal-resignations_n_901560.html" target="_hplink">John Yates, assistant commissioner of the British Metropolitan Police, stepped down</a> after the resignation of chief Paul Stephenson the previous night. The scandal has focused on British police for failing to investigate evidence of News of the World's phone hacking activities and for accepting bribes for information from tabloid writers. Yates decided not to reopen the investigation two years ago, saying he did not believe there was new evidence to consider.

  • July 19, 2011

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/19/rupert-murdoch-parliament-rebekah-brooks-james-murdoch-phone-hacking_n_902316.html" target="_hplink">Rupert Murdoch, son James and former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks testified in front of a parliamentary committee</a>. All three insisted that they were not aware of phone hacking activities at the tabloid. Rupert Murdoch also made clear that he would not resign. Someone <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/19/rupert-murdoch-pie-video_n_903508.html" target="_hplink">attempted to pie Murdoch in the face with shaving cream</a>.

  • July 21, 2011

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/21/james-murdoch-misleading-parliament_n_906083.html" target="_hplink">A former editor and a top lawyer for the News of the World accused Murdoch of lying in his testimony </a>that he had no knowledge of phone hacking at the tabloid. The two recall showing him an email between private investigation Glenn Mulcaire and then-reporter Neville Thurlbeck with transcripts of hacked voice messages. The investigation also <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/21/phone-hacking-investigation_n_905741.html" target="_hplink">threatened to spread to other newspapers</a> that were named for using a private investigator to illegally obtain information.

  • July 28, 2011

    The Guardian reported that the News of the World <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/28/news-of-the-world-sarah-payne_n_912003.html" target="_hplink">hacked the phone of Sara Payne</a>, the mother of an 8 year old girl who was abducted and killed by a pedophile. The 2000 murder had prompted Rebekah Brooks to launch a campaign for a sex offender's law in Britain now known as "Sarah's Law." The phone that the tabloid hacked may have been one that Brooks personally gave to Payne in the aftermath of the tragedy, which Payne had praised as for helping her "stay in touch with my family, friends and support network."

  • August 16, 2011

    Clive Goodman, a former News of the World reporter, has alleged that there was a massive coverup of phone hacking at the tabloid. He was arrested for phone hacking in 2007, and now claims that former editor Andy Coulson offered to let him keep his job in exchange for saying that he was the only person at the tabloid who hacked phones. The allegations are deeply damaging to Coulson and Rupert and James Murdoch, who have all maintained that they knew nothing about phone hacking.

  • August 18, 2011

    Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator hired by the News of the World to intercept voicemails, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/18/glenn-mulcaire-phone-hacking-lawsuit_n_930537.html" target="_hplink">sued News Corp.</a> over the payment of his legal fees. The company had been paying his fees since 2007 when he was found guilty of hacking the phones of aides to the royal family, but recently terminated the arrangement after Rupert and James Murdoch's testimonies in Parliament. Mulcaire himself is the target of dozens of civil lawsuits filed by suspected victims of phone hacking.

  • August 19, 2011

    Glenn Mulcaire has been ordered to release the names of people <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/19/glenn-mulcaire-ordered-reveal-phone-hacking_n_931175.html" target="_hplink">who ordered him to hack the phones of six public figures</a>. He is due to make the disclosure by the end of next week, as part of actor Steve Coogan's lawsuit against News Group. The revelations threaten to blow the defense presented by News of the World editors, who claim they knew nothing about phone hacking.

  • August 22, 2011

    News breaks that the News of the World <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/22/milly-dowler-news-of-the-world-hacking_n_933049.html" target="_hplink">hacked even more of Milly Dowler's voicemails than previously assumed</a>.

  • August 26, 2011

    News International is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/08/26/glenn-mulcaire-reveals-ne_n_938343.html" target="_hplink">continuing to pay Glenn Mulcaire's legal fees</a>, despite the company's insistence that it would stop. The previous month, the private investigator <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/08/26/glenn-mulcaire-reveals-ne_n_938343.html" target="_hplink">had released the names of people who ordered him to hack phones</a>, but the names were kept confidential.

  • September 13, 2011

    News International announces the discovery of thousands of new documents related to phone hacking.

  • September 19, 2011

    Milly Dowler's family is slated to receive <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/30/neville-thurlbeck-slams-news-of-the-world_n_989189.html?1319826500" target="_hplink">£3 million in a settlement</a> with News Corp.

  • September 30, 2011

    Neville Thurlbeck, a former News of the World reporter, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/30/neville-thurlbeck-slams-news-of-the-world_n_989189.html?1319826500" target="_hplink">insists that he is innocent and was unfairly dismissed</a>. His account contrasts News Corp.'s defense, which places Thurlbeck as the single rogue reporter responsible for phone hacking at the News of the World.

  • October 5, 2011

    News International <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/14/news-corp-lawsuit-77-phone-hacking-parliament_n_962262.html?1319826382" target="_hplink">faces a lawsuit from the parent of a 7/7 London bombing victim</a>, among at least 60 other lawsuits.

  • October 19, 2011

    Yet another lawyer <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/19/julian-pike-news-international-phone-hacking_n_1019620.html" target="_hplink">has accused News International of misleading Parliament over its knowledge of phone hacking</a>. Julian Pike, a partner of the firm that used to represent the company, said that he saw evidence that there were more journalists involved in phone hacking in 2008. His testimony came after the company signed with a new law firm and Pike was no longer bound by client-attorney privilege.

  • October 21, 2011

    Rupert Murdoch faced angry shareholders at News Corp.'s annual meeting. Shareholder after shareholder vented frustration with the company, and Murdoch struggled to remain calm, losing his temper at one point.

  • October 24, 2011

    James Murdoch<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/24/james-murdoch-parliament-nov-10_n_1028191.html?1319830547" target="_hplink"> has been called back to testify in front of Parliament for the second time</a> on November 10. His testimony will focus on discrepancies in his account, given witnesses who have said that he signed off on phone hacking payouts to Gordon Taylor.

  • October 24, 2011

    Les Hinton, the former CEO of Dow Jones, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/24/les-hinton-parliament-hacking-wsj_n_1028023.html?1319830551" target="_hplink">testified about phone hacking</a> in front of Parliament. The former publisher of the Wall Street Journal, who had previously testified on phone hacking in 2007 and 2009, denied that he misled Parliament in his past testimonies. He resigned in the summer, and was the most senior executive claimed by the scandal.

  • October 25, 2011

    James, Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch were all re-elected to the board of News Corp. despite <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/10/25/a-third-of-news-corp-inve_n_1029860.html?ref=phone-hacking" target="_hplink">huge shareholder opposition to their leadership</a>. Their tenure was never in doubt, due to the company's shareholder structure, but the majority of shareholders voted against James and Lachlan.

  • November 1, 2011

    A <a href="http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/romenesko/152070/news-corp-hr-chief-steps-down/" target="_hplink">series of internal News International memos</a> could be damning for James Murdoch, who is set to testify in front of Parliament for the second time next week. One of the documents was prepared for a meeting between James Murdoch and Colin Myler, the former editor who challenged his account of events, and specifically discusses the hacked voice mails. The notes of Julian Pike, then-lawyer for the company, also contain incriminating phrases like "paying them off."

  • November 10, 2011

    James Murdoch <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/10/james-murdoch-parliament-testimony_n_1085624.html" target="_hplink">testified on phone hacking in Parliament</a> for a second time. The younger Murdoch faced new evidence that he may have been aware of phone hacking at the time of his company's settlement with footballer Gordon Taylor. He maintained his innocence, claiming that he was aware that Taylor had been hacked, but that he was unaware the News of the World had targeted others.

  • November 11, 2011

    Former News of the World reporter Neville Thurlbeck <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/dec/07/phone-hacking-glenn-mulcaire-arrested?newsfeed=true" target="_hplink">speaks out against News International</a>. He said that he had been trying to warn the company about phone hacking for the past two years -- during which time he said he also collected evidence of the illicit crime at the tabloid. Police seized those materials the same week. Thurlbeck, who had been arrested for phone hacking, continued to maintain his innocence.

  • November 29, 2011

    Former News of the World features editor Paul McMullan <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/29/paul-mcmullan-at-leveson-_n_1118809.html" target="_hplink">gave an explosive and freewheeling testimony</a> about the extent of phone hacking at the British tabloid. He appeared to admit engaging in the criminal activity himself, implicated Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, and hinted that Piers Morgan had a hand in establishing the cutthroat culture where phone hacking eventually became commonplace. Among the crazier things he said were that he loved celebrity car chases before Princess Diana's death, and that "privacy is for paedos" (pedophiles).

  • December 7, 2011

    Glenn Mulcaire was arrested.

  • December 8, 2011

    New emails between James Murdoch, Colin Myler and Tom Crone could be damaging for Murdoch's defense. Murdoch reveals that Myler emailed him in 2008, asking for a meeting about the Gordon Taylor affair. Also attached to the message was a series of emails between Myler and Tom Crone, which referenced phone hacking and Glenn Mulcaire.

  • December 20, 2011

    Piers Morgan <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/19/piers-morgan-testifies-phone-hacking-leveson-inquiry_n_1159521.html" target="_hplink">testified on phone hacking</a> to the Leveson inquiry. He maintained that he had never hacked a phone or ordered anyone to do so. His testimony grew a bit heated after he refused to describe the circumstances under which he had heard one of Paul McCartney's voicemails to Heather Mills.

  • January 19, 2012

    Jude Law was one of 37 victims of phone hacking <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/19/news-corp-phone-hacking-settlements-jude-law_n_1215594.html?ref=phone-hacking" target="_hplink">who received cash payouts from News Corp.</a> It was the largest group of settlements announced in the scandal thus far. Fifteen of the deals amounted to about $1 million. Law was one of sixty people who sued the company alleging that their phones had been hacked.

  • January 31, 2012

    The Financial Times <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/31/news-corp-arrests-the-sun_n_1244517.html?ref=phone-hacking" target="_hplink">reported</a> that the launch of News International's forthcoming publication -- a Sunday version of The Sun -- was pushed back due to arrests at another one of the company's properties. Rupert Murdoch denied the report on Twitter. Four journalists at the Sun were arrested on charges of bribing the police.

  • February 11, 2012

    Hell is breaking loose for Rupert Murdoch's empire again -- this time, for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/11/the-sun-arrests-police-bribery-murdoch-tabloid_n_1270214.html?ref=phone-hacking" target="_hplink">illegal payments from journalists to members of the police</a>. Five employees at the Sun, and three civil servants were arrested on Saturday. Sources said that Murdoch plans to continue to publish the paper, and that he will be traveling to London to meet with staff members. The trip had been reportedly planned before the arrests occurred.

  • February 13, 2012

    Picture shows an arrangement of copies of The Sun newspaper front pages on February 13, 2012. Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid The Sun <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/13/sun-kavanagh-arrests-tabloid_n_1272909.html?ref=phone-hacking" target="_hplink">condemned</a> police raids against its journalists as a 'witch-hunt' worthy of former communist states, and won rare support from rival newspapers. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • February 17, 2012

    News Corporation Chief Rupert Murdoch leaves his London home, on February 17, 2012. Rupert Murdoch said on February 17 he will launch a Sunday version of his top-selling British tabloid The Sun 'very soon', as he sought to boost morale among staff left angry and hurt by a wave of arrests. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • February 26, 2012

    News Corporation Chief Rupert Murdoch holds up a copy of the newly launched 'The Sun on Sunday' newspaper as he leaves his London home on February 26, 2012. Rupert Murdoch's Sun on Sunday tabloid hit news stands on Sunday, replacing the defunct News of the World with a pledge to meet high ethical standards after a 'challenging' chapter in its history. AFP PHOTO/CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • February 28, 2012

    British police gave former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks a retired police horse to look after, it was confirmed on Feb. 28. The Metropolitan Police insisted it was not a gift horse. They said it was loaned to Brooks under a program that allows people to care for retired service animals.

  • February 29, 2012

    James Murdoch <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/29/james-murdoch-steps-down-news-international_n_1309953.html?ref=media" target="_hplink">steps down</a> as the executive chairman of News International. He weathered speculation that he would resign for months since News Corp.'s phone hacking scandal broke in July 2011. He is resigning amidst continued allegations of phone hacking, and new explosive charges of bribery at the Sun.

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