Tuesday 12 December 2017

Murdoch family facing probe into alleged hacking cover-up

David Beckham and his wife Victoria. Photo: Reuters
David Beckham and his wife Victoria. Photo: Reuters


THE Murdoch family was last night facing a fresh series of highly damaging allegations over its handling of the phone-hacking scandal.

A senior Scotland Yard officer claimed that News International executives -- including Rupert Murdoch's son James -- are being investigated for any alleged role in covering up the extent of "industrial scale" hacking, according to the Sunday Telegraph in London.

Metropolitan police officers want to know why a series of emails, dating back to 2006, were only made available to detectives in January.

Those emails prompted the current inquiry and have led, in the past two weeks, to the closure of the News of the World, the resignations of executives Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton, the arrest of Andy Coulson and the scrapping of News Corporation's BSkyB takeover attempt.

News International confirmed last night that a series of emails had been read by senior executives -- a source declined to say who -- before being sent in 2007 to an outside law firm where they remained for four years before being handed to police.

In a series of further developments, it has emerged:

• James Murdoch's position as chairman of BSkyB is under review after the board agreed a special session to discuss his future.

• Leading shareholders are calling on News Corp to sell its UK newspapers because of fears the scandal will spread to America.

• Rupert Murdoch's bid to purchase Formula One could be derailed by the hacking scandal, according to Bernie Ecclestone, the F1 supremo.

• Lawyers acting for David Beckham have contacted police in the growing belief that the footballer and his wife Victoria were targeted by Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator who worked for News of the World.

• Paul McCartney's aides said they were also hacked at the time of the former Beatle's split from Heather Mills.

• The actor Jude Law was allegedly hacked by the News of the World while visiting the US, opening the way for prosecutions in America where News Corp has most to lose.

In a further twist, The New York Times also reported that the former deputy editor of the News of the World, Neil Wallis, was reporting back to News International while he was working for the police on the hacking case.

The Murdochs and Ms Brooks are to give evidence to the culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday over their role in the scandal and to explain why News International had previously told the UK committee that the hacking was the action of one "rogue reporter".

On the same day, Paul Stephenson, the metropolitan police commissioner, will be grilled by the home affairs select committee on the police's failure to fully investigate the hacking in 2005 and 2006 and again in 2009.

He will also be asked why he employed Mr Wallis -- who was arrested by police last week -- as a media adviser.

Sunday Independent

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