Sunday 18 February 2018

Murdoch fury at phone-hacking probe revealed in secret tapes

Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch

Dean Gray

RUPERT Murdoch has vented his anger at the continuing police investigation into alleged phone-hacking and illegal payments to officials by journalists working for his media empire, according to a secret recording.

The News Corp boss was heard describing the treatment of journalists who had been arrested as a "disgrace" and suggesting that he regretted the extent to which the company had co-operated with the investigation.

The recording, obtained by the Exaro investigative website and broadcast by Channel 4 News, was said to have been made during a meeting with journalists from 'The Sun' at his British newspapers' headquarters in Wapping, east London, in March.

Mr Murdoch is heard railing at the the way the police behaved.

"Still, I mean, it's a disgrace. Here we are, two years later, and the cops are totally incompetent," he said.

"The idea that the cops then started coming after you, kick you out of bed, and your families, at six in the morning, is unbelievable. But why are the police behaving in this way? It's the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing.

"And now they're arresting their own, who never even took money . . . they're going to put all newspapers out of business."

When one of the journalists present questioned why so much material had been handed over to the police by News Corp's management and standards committee (MSC), Mr Murdoch indicated that he believed they had gone too far.

MISTAKE

"Because – it was a mistake, I think. But, in that atmosphere, at that time, we said, 'Look, we are an open book, we will show you everything'. And the lawyers just got rich going through millions of emails," he said.

He added: "All I can say is, for the last several months, we have told, the MSC has told, and (name withheld), who's a terrific lawyer, has told the police, has said 'No, no, no – get a court order. Deal with that'."

He also appeared to suggest that any journalists who were convicted and jailed over the inquiry could get their jobs back.

"I will do everything in my power to give you total support, even if you're convicted and get six months or whatever," he said.

"You're all innocent until proven guilty. What you're asking is: what happens if some of you are proven guilty?

"What afterwards? I'm not allowed to promise you – I will promise you continued health support – but your jobs. I've got to be careful what comes out – but, frankly, I won't say it, but just trust me," Mr Murdoch said.

Labour MP Tom Watson said Mr Murdoch's comments contrasted with his contrite appearance before the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee two years ago.

"Rupert Murdoch told Parliament one thing and told his staff another. He told Parliament that he was fully co-operating with the police, he told his staff that it was a mistake they were co-operating with the police," Mr Watson told Channel 4 News.

"There is a man who sat before Parliament and said he had the highest integrity, they were working their way through it, co-operating with the police, and people who hacked phones or paid police would be immediately dealt with and then you hear him assuring people that if they go to jail they might get their jobs back."

Irish Independent

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