Murdoch media crisis deepens with five new arrests
Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who made and broke British prime ministers, now appears powerless to thwart investigations into alleged misdeeds by his empire.
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What followed was a spiraling series of inquiries by British police, the judiciary, and the Parliament into News Corps media practices, and threatened at one point to draw in British Prime Minister David Cameron.Skip to next paragraph
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In July as the phone hacking scandal blew up, Murdoch closed the No. 1 selling News of the World weekly, whose origins dated to the mid-19th century. Shuttering the News was widely seen as penance by Murdoch and a way to clear the media empire of scandal ahead of approval for the BskyB purchase.
But the five staffers arrested this weekend – among them a deputy editor, a photo editor, and a foreign correspondent – make nine Sun employees now apprehended as the crisis deepens.
A new day for whistleblowers
The Sun journalists were arrested along with two Ministry of Defense officials. Sun staffers reacted with a fury at accusations that News Corps management fingered them in order to shield themselves from allegations of complicity or knowledge of illegal practices by News Corp.
The New York Times today published a detailed account of an e-mail allegedly sent to James Murdoch, the ostensible corporate heir, that showed evidence of phone hacking and other illegalities early in the scandal, which dates back at least 10 years. The younger Murdoch has testified that he was unaware of the extent of News Corp illegal behavior, though now departed News Corp. senior executives and legal counsel deny these statements.
The Times suggests new information arising in News Corp. investigations may be coming from executives within the company positioning themselves for greater leverage at the expense of the senior Murdoch.
The 2008 e-mail surfaced in a box of material sealed and taken from the office of Colin Myler, the last editor of News of the World.
Murdoch is allegedly leaving for London this week and News Corp. executives have said they will not sell the Sun, known as a “red-top” for its rouge tabloid banner.
Sun deputy editor Trevor Kavanagh defended his paper today, saying that paying for stories “has been standard procedure as long as newspapers have existed. There is nothing disreputable about it. And, as far as we know at this point, nothing illegal.”
Yet Martin Moore of Media Standard Trust, a British watchdog organization, said that “we have laws and if the police have evidence, they need to follow through.” For years British media leaders have complained that police did not investigate clear cases and the stories of whistle-blowers, Mr. Moore said. “So now we can’t complain if the police are investigating. You can’t have it both ways.”
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