News International phone hacking scandal

News International phone hacking scandal
Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive officer of News Corporation, the parent company of News International

The News International phone-hacking scandal is an ongoing controversy involving mainly the News of the World but also other British tabloid newspapers published by News International, a subsidiary of News Corporation. Employees of the newspaper were accused of engaging in phone hacking, police bribery, and exercising improper influence in the pursuit of publishing stories. Investigations conducted from 2005–2007 concluded that the paper's phone hacking activities were limited to celebrities, politicians and members of the British Royal Family. However, in July 2011, it was revealed that the phones of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, relatives of deceased British soldiers, and victims of the 7/7 London bombings were also accessed, resulting in a public outcry against News Corporation and owner Rupert Murdoch. Advertiser boycotts contributed to the closure of the News of the World on 10 July, ending 168 years of publication.[1]

British prime minister David Cameron announced on 6 July that a public inquiry would look into the affair after police investigations had ended. On 13 July, Cameron named Lord Justice Leveson as chairman of the inquiry, with a remit to look into phone hacking and police bribery by the News of the World, while a separate inquiry would consider the culture and ethics of the wider British media.[2] He also said the Press Complaints Commission would be replaced "entirely".[1] The inquiries led to several high-profile resignations, including Dow Jones chief executive Les Hinton; News International legal manager Tom Crone; and chief executive Rebekah Brooks. The commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police Service, Sir Paul Stephenson, also resigned his post. Former News of the World managing editor Andy Coulson, former executive editor Neil Wallis, and Brooks were all arrested. Murdoch and his son, James, were summoned to give evidence before a parliamentary media committee.

The negative attention garnered by the scandal eventually reached the United States, where News Corporation is headquartered and operates multiple media outlets. The Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a probe on 14 July to determine whether News Corporation accessed voicemails of victims of the 9/11 attacks. On 15 July, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced an additional investigation by the Department of Justice, looking into whether the company had violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.



In January 2003, Andy Coulson took over as editor of the News of the World following the move of editor Rebekah Brooks (then known as Rebekah Wade) to sister paper The Sun. Brooks had been News of the World editor since May 2000, during which time allegations would later surface that the tabloid accessed the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Later in 2003, Brooks and Coulson appeared before a parliamentary committee, where Brooks admitted to paying police for information.[1]

In 2005 U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) today wrote to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales after a small New Jersey marketing company called FLOORgraphics alleged that News America Marketing engaged in illegal computer espionage by breaking into password protected computer systems and obtaining confidential information.[3]

In August 2006, Clive Goodman, royal editor at the News of the World, and his associate Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator, were arrested over allegations of phone hacking made by the British Royal Family in 2005. Goodman and Mulcaire were subsequently charged; they pleaded guilty and were imprisoned on 26 January 2007, for four and six months, respectively. The paper's editor Andy Coulson resigned while insisting that he had no knowledge of any illegal activities.[4] In March of that year, a senior aide to Rupert Murdoch told a parliamentary committee that a "rigorous internal investigation" found no evidence of widespread hacking at the News of the World; two months later the Press Complaints Commission exonerated the paper in a report on phone hacking.[1]

After Goodman and Mulcaire pleaded guilty, a breach of privacy claim was started by Gordon Taylor, Chief Executive of the Professional Footballers Association who was represented by his solicitor Mark Lewis. That claim settled for a payment of £700,000 including legal costs.[5] James Murdoch agreed with the settlement.[6]

In 2009, and 2010, further revelations emerged regarding the extent of the phone hacking and the number of News of the World employees who may have been aware of the practices. By March 2010, the paper had spent over £2 million settling court cases with victims of phone hacking. In July 2009,[7] The Guardian made a series[8][not in citation given] of allegations of wider phone hacking activities at the News of the World newspaper, that were aimed at other individuals, including television presenter Chris Tarrant.

This led to several prominent figures who were covertly snooped upon bringing legal action against the News of the World's owner and Mulcaire. Amongst those who began legal action were Tarrant, football agent Sky Andrew, actors Sienna Miller and Steve Coogan, and sports presenter Andy Gray.[9]

2005–2006: Royal phone hacking scandal

On 13 November 2005, News of the World published an article written by royal editor Clive Goodman, claiming that Prince William was in the process of borrowing a portable editing suite from ITV royal correspondent Tom Bradby. Following the publication, the Prince and Bradby met to try to figure out how the details of their arrangement had been leaked, as only two other people were aware of it. Prince William noted that another equally improbable leak had recently taken place regarding an appointment he had made with a knee surgeon.[10] After some discussion, the Prince and Bradby concluded it was likely that their voicemails were being accessed.[11] The Metropolitan Police set up an investigation under Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, who managed the Counter Terrorism Command.[12] Clarke reported to Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman, commander of the Specialist Operations directorate.[13] The reason the investigation was passed to Hayman and Clarke, was that Hayman's command included the Protection Command, under whom SO14 provide all Royalty Protection.

Clarke's investigation team searched the London office of the News of the World, eventually concluding that the compromised voice mail accounts belonged to Prince William's aides, including Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton,[14] and not the Prince himself.[15] In August 2006, the News of the World's royal editor, Clive Goodman and a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, were arrested by the Metropolitan Police, and later charged with hacking the telephones of members of the royal family by accessing voicemail messages, an offence under section 79 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.[16] News of the World had paid Mulcaire £104,988 for his services, on top of which Goodman had additionally paid Mulcaire £12,300 in cash between 9 November 2005, and 7 August 2006, hiding Mulcaire's identity by using the code name Alexander on his expenses sheet.[17] The court heard that Mulcaire had also hacked into the messages of: supermodel Elle Macpherson; publicist Max Clifford; MP Simon Hughes; football agent Skylet Andrew; and the Professional Footballers' Association's Gordon Taylor.[14] On 26 January 2007, both Goodman and Mulcaire pleaded guilty to the charges and were sentenced to four and six months imprisonment respectively.[18] On the same day, it was announced that Andy Coulson had resigned as editor of the News of the World.

Information Commissioner's report

In 2002, under 'Operation Motorman', the Information Commissioner's Office under Richard Thomas raided various newspaper and private investigators' offices, looking for details of personal information kept on unregistered computer databases. The operation uncovered numerous invoices addressed to newspapers and magazines, which detailed prices for providing the journalists with personal information, with 305 journalists being identified as having been the recipients of a wide range of information.[19]

In 2006, a request under the Freedom of Information Act led to the publication of a report to Parliament called "What Price Privacy Now?".[20] The newspaper with the highest number of requests was the Daily Mail with 952 transactions by 58 journalists; the News of the World came fifth in the table, with 182 transactions from 19 journalists.[19] The Daily Mail immediately issued a press release, in which it rejected the accusations within the report. Editor Paul Dacre said that Associated Newspapers only used private investigators to confirm public information, such as dates of birth.[19]

In a July 2011 appearance in front of a parliamentary committee, a day after Rebekah Brooks had been arrested and bailed, Dacre told them that he had never "countenanced" phone hacking or blagging at his newspaper, as both acts were clearly "criminal".[21]

2009–2011: Renewed investigations

It was reported that the News of the World may have hacked the phones of relatives of 7/7 attack victims (survivors pictured aboard one of the bombed Underground trains)

Investigations into phone hacking at the News of the World followed the revelations in 2005, of voicemail interception by employees at the tabloid. Despite wider evidence of wrongdoing, the royal phone hacking affair appeared resolved with the 2007 conviction of the News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, and the resignation of editor Andy Coulson. However, a series of civil legal cases and investigations by newspapers, parliament and the police ultimately saw evidence of "industrial-scale" phone hacking, leading to the closure of the News of the World. The controversy did not end there, developing into a wider ethics scandal involving much of News Corporation as wrongdoing beyond the News of the World (including outlets in the United States) and beyond phone hacking (including bribing police for information) came to light.

Operation Weeting begins

The Metropolitan Police announced on 26 January 2011, that it would begin a new and fresh investigation into the phone hacking affair, following the receipt of "significant new information" regarding the conduct of News of the World employees.[22] Operation Weeting would take place alongside the previously announced review of phone hacking evidence by the Crown Prosecution Service.[23]

The first arrests as part of the new investigation were made on 5 April 2011. Ian Edmondson and the News of the World's chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck were arrested on suspicion of unlawfully intercepting voicemail messages.[24][25] Both men had denied participating in illegal activities. A third journalist at the newspaper, James Weatherup, was arrested on 14 April 2011.[26]

The Guardian, referring to the Information Commissioner's report of 2006, queried why the Metropolitan Police chose to exclude a large quantity of material relating to Jonathan Rees from the scope of its Operation Weeting inquiry.[27] The News of the World was said to have made extensive use of Rees' investigative services, including phone hacking, paying him up to £150,000 a year.[28] On the basis of evidence obtained during one of several police inquiries into the murder of Daniel Morgan, Rees' partner in Southern Investigations Ltd, Rees was found guilty in December 2000, of conspiring to plant cocaine on an innocent woman to discredit her in a child custody dispute. He received a seven year prison sentence for attempting to pervert the course of justice.[29] After he was released from prison the News of the World, under the editorship of Andy Coulson, began commissioning Rees' services again.[28]

The Guardian journalist Nick Davies described commissions from the News of the World as the "golden source" of income for Rees' "empire of corruption" which involved a network of contacts with corrupt police officers and a pattern of illegal behaviour extending far beyond phone hacking.[30] Despite detailed evidence, the Metropolitan Police failed to pursue effective in-depth investigations into Rees' corrupt relationship with the News of the World over more than a decade.[28]

On 12 July 2011, Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers told MPs and the Home Affairs committee chairman Keith Vaz that police had contacted 170 of the 3,870 people named in Glenn Mulcaire's files to date.[31] There were 11,000 pages of the evidence[31] with 5,000 landline phone numbers and 4,000 mobile phone numbers[32] on them.[31]

April–July 2011: Admission of liability and new allegations

Apology and compensation

News International announced on 8 April 2011, that it would admit liability in some of the breach of privacy cases being brought in relation to phone hacking by the News of the World. The company offered an unreserved apology and compensation to eight claimants, but will continue to contest allegations made by other litigants.[33][34]

The eight claimants were identified in media reports as:[24][34][35][36]

At the time of News International's announcement, 24 individuals were in the process of taking legal action against the News of the World on breach of privacy grounds.[33] Comic actor Steve Coogan was reported to be one of the suspected victims of phone hacking.[24][35][36]

Hoppen lodged a further claim against the News of the World and one of its reporters, Dan Evans, for "accessing or attempting to access her voicemail messages between June 2009, and March 2010".[37] News International has not admitted liability in relation to the claim.[34][37]

On 10 April, Tessa Jowell and her former husband David Mills, Andy Gray, Sky Andrew, Nicola Phillips, Joan Hammell, and Kelly Hoppen all received the official apology and compensation, but actor Leslie Ash and John Prescott, who both had also claimed breach of privacy, did not.[37][38]

Politician George Galloway said the apology was a cynical attempt to protect Rebekah Brooks, while Scottish politician Danny Alexander predicted further arrests would be made. The shadow Welsh secretary Peter Hain called on the legal authorities to conduct a "full and proper public investigation" and then claimed the police investigation had been "tardy".[38]

The first individual to accept the News of the World's apology and compensation was actress Sienna Miller, who received £100,000 plus legal costs.[39] Sports pundit Andy Gray followed in June, accepting a payout of £20,000 plus legal costs.[40] Prior to the settlements, both individuals' litigation claims had been identified as phone hacking "test cases" to be heard in January 2012.

In April, The Observer reported claims from a former minister that Rupert Murdoch tried to persuade Prime Minister Gordon Brown early in 2010, to help in resisting attempts by Labour MPs and peers to investigate the affair, and to go easy on News of the World in the run up to the UK's general election of May 2010.[41] News International described the report as "total rubbish"; a spokesperson for Brown declined to comment.

Arrest of James Weatherup

A News of the World reporter and the paper's assistant news editor, James Weatherup, was taken into custody for questioning by the Metropolitan Police on 14 April 2011.[42][43][44][45][46][47] He had also dealt with some major fiscal issues, "managing huge budgets" and "crisis management" at the newspaper.[42][48][49] Weatherup was a colleague of chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck and the former assistant news editor Ian Edmondson, both of whom were also later arrested.[42][48]

The BBC reported on 20 May 2011, that a senior News of the World executive was implicated, according to actor Jude Law's barrister in the High Court. This report also said that the number of people whose phones may have been hacked may be much larger than previously thought. The High Court was said to have been told that "notebooks belonging to a private investigator hired by News Group Newspapers contained thousands of mobile phone numbers" and "police also found 149 individual personal identification numbers and almost 400 unique voicemail numbers which can be used to access voice mail".[50]

Milly Dowler's voicemail

It was first reported by The Guardian on 4 July 2011, that police had found evidence suggesting that the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire collected personal information about the family of the missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler, following her disappearance in March 2002, and the subsequent discovery of her murdered body six months later.[51] According to the paper, journalists working for the News of the World had hired private investigators to hack into Dowler's voicemail inbox. It was alleged that they had deleted some messages, giving false hope to police and to Dowler's family who thought that she might have deleted the messages herself and therefore might still be alive, and potentially destroying valuable evidence about her abduction and murder by serial killer Levi Bellfield, who was convicted and jailed for life in June 2011. The Guardian commented that the News of the World did not conceal from its readers in an article on 14 April 2002, that it had intercepted telephone messages and also informed Surrey police of this fact on 27 March 2002, six days after Milly went missing.[51]

As of July 2011, the Dowler family was preparing a claim for damages against the News of the World.[52] News Group Newspapers described the allegation as "a development of great concern".[51] Reacting to the revelation, Prime Minister David Cameron said that the alleged hacking, if true, was "truly dreadful". He added that police ought to pursue a "vigorous" investigation to ascertain what had taken place.[53][54] Leader of the opposition Ed Miliband called on Rebekah Brooks, the News of the World's editor in 2002, and then the chief executive of News International, to "consider her conscience and consider her position".[54] Brooks denied knowledge of phone hacking during her editorship.[55][56]

It was in the wake of the Dowler allegations that a significant number of people, including former deputy prime minister John Prescott and other politicians, began to seriously question whether the takeover of British Sky Broadcasting by News Corporation ought to be blocked.[57] The Media Standards Trust formed the pressure group Hacked Off, to campaign for a public inquiry. Soon after launch, the campaign gained the support of suspected hacking victim, the actor Hugh Grant, who became a public spokesperson, appearing on Question Time and Newsnight.[58]

British soldiers' relatives

On 6 July 2011, The Daily Telegraph reported that the phones of some relatives of British soldiers killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan may have been accessed by the News of the World. It said that personal details and phone numbers belonging to relations of dead service personnel were found in the files of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.[59] In response to the allegations, The Royal British Legion announced that it would suspend all ties with the News of the World, dropping the newspaper as its campaigning partner.[60][61]

7/7 London attack victims

On the day before the sixth anniversary of the 7 July 2005 London bombings, it was reported that relatives of some victims may have had their telephones accessed by the News of the World in the aftermath of the attacks. The fathers of two victims told the BBC that police officers investigating the alleged hacking had warned them that their contact details were found on a target list, while a former firefighter who helped rescue injured passengers also said he had been contacted by police who were looking into the hacking allegations.[62] A number of survivors from the bombings also revealed that police had warned them their phones may have been accessed and their messages intercepted, and in some cases were advised to change security codes and PINs.[63][64][65]

Sara Payne

On 28 July, The Guardian reported that the News of the World hacked into the voicemail of media campaigner Sara Payne, whose eight-year-old daughter, Sarah Payne, was murdered by a paedophile in 2000. This news was arguably met with even more public outrage than the Dowler revelations, given the prominent role that Rebekah Brooks and the News of the World played in spearheading the passage of Sarah's Law, which strengthened sex offender laws in the UK after the child's murder. Brooks developed a long-standing friendship with Sara Payne in the years since her daughter's death; Payne wrote a column praising the News of the World's support for Sarah's Law in its final issue, writing that the paper's staff "supported me through some of the darkest, most difficult times of my life and became my trusted friends".[66] Brooks used the Sarah's Law campaign to defend the News of the World when she was questioned by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Scotland Yard had reportedly found materials pertaining to Payne in Glenn Mulcaire's notes. They also discovered that Payne's voicemail was on a mobile phone given to her by Brooks, ostensibly to help her keep in touch with supporters. Brooks issued a statement denying that the News of the World was aware of Mulcaire's targeting of Payne, saying that such an idea was "unthinkable". Payne was said to be "absolutely devastated and deeply disappointed" at the disclosure, while a colleague close to her said that she was "in bits" over the affair.

Other victims

Some email messages were discovered suggesting Jonathan Rees[67] made requests for sums of around £1,000 for contact details of senior members of the Royal Family and friends.[68]

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott claimed he knew of "direct evidence" indicating The Sunday Times was involved in illegal news gathering activities.[69] Former prime minister Gordon Brown alleged his bank account was accessed by The Sunday Times in 2000, and that The Sun gained private medical records about his son, Fraser.[69] Rebekah Brooks telephoned Brown to tell him that The Sun was going to reveal that his son had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and tried to persuade him not to spoil the newspaper's exclusive by announcing it himself first.[70] The Guardian later ran a front page story accusing The Sun of improperly obtaining the medical records of Brown's son, but was later forced to issue an apology upon discovering that the information came from a member of the public.[71]

Other victims of hacking included former Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner John Yates, who revealed on 12 January 2011, that his phone was hacked between 2004 and 2005.[72] The phone of chat show host Paul O'Grady was also hacked by the News of the World after he suffered a heart attack in 2006.[73][74]

In July 2011 it was reported that Mark Stephens (solicitor) had been one of a group of high profile lawyers who may have been the victim of "News International phone hacking scandal".[75]

Mary Ellen Field, the former business manager of model Elle Macpherson, lost her job after Field was accused of leaking confidential information to the News of the World, which had published a story about Macpherson's split with Arpad Busson. Field realised their voicemails could have been intercepted after Glenn Mulcaire admitted in court to accessing Macpherson's phones.[76]

A cousin of Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian man shot dead by police who mistook him for a fugitive suspected of involvement in the 21 July 2005 attempted bombings in London, may also have had his phone hacked by the News of the World after Menezes's death.[77][78][79][80] A spokesperson from the Justice4Jean campaign group said: "The Menezes family are deeply pained to find their phones may have been hacked at a time at which they were at their most vulnerable and bereaved."[77][78]

Carole Caplin, the former fitness adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair, announced that the Metropolitan police had told her that her mobile phone was probably hacked, dating back to 2002, one of the earliest cases so far discovered.[81]

Fallout from scandal

Coulson's second resignation

Having resigned in 2007, as editor of the News of the World in the aftermath of the royal hacking affair, Andy Coulson quit his position as David Cameron's communications director on 21 January 2011, citing "continued coverage of events connected to my old job at the News of the World".[82]

Closure of the News of the World

The closure of the News of the World after 168 years in print was the first significant effect of the scandal.

The final edition of News of the World, published on 10 July 2011.

In the days leading up to 7 July 2011, Virgin Holidays, the Co-operative Group, Ford Motor Company and General Motors (owner of Vauxhall Motors) had all pulled their advertisements from the News of the World in response to the unfolding controversy.[83][84] Other major advertisers who considered doing likewise included mobile phone operators Vodafone, O2, Everything Everywhere (T-Mobile and Orange), Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, EasyJet, Lloyds Banking Group, German utility company RWE (owner of Npower), electricals retailer Dixons, and Tesco.[83][84] Kesa Electricals, owner of the Comet electricals chain, and Renault said they had no advertising plans scheduled in the foreseeable future and were also considering whether they should join any future boycott.[83]

James Murdoch announced on 7 July 2011, that, after 168 years in print,[85] the News of the World would publish its last-ever edition on 10 July, with the loss of 200 jobs.[86][87] News Corporation said that all profits from the final edition would go to good causes. Downing Street said it had no role in the decision.[88] James Murdoch conceded the paper was "sullied by behaviour that was wrong", saying "if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our company."[89]

Other executives of the company said the phone hacking was more widespread than previously believed and that they are cooperating with investigations into the allegations.[90][91][92] Editor Rebekah Brooks told staff at a meeting that she recognised following an internal investigation that "other shoes would drop", a phrase indicating that further revelations of wrongdoing would follow.[93]

There was immediate speculation that News International will launch a Sunday edition of The Sun to replace its sister paper News of the World.[94]

BSkyB takeover bid withdrawn

Rupert Murdoch announced on 13 July that News Corporation was withdrawing its proposal to take full control of the subscription television broadcaster BSkyB, due to concerns over the ongoing furore.[95][96][97] The announcement was made a few hours before the House of Commons was due to debate a motion, supported by all major parties, calling on News Corporation to withdraw its proposal.[96] In a symbolic gesture the House later passed the motion unanimously by acclamation.[98][99]

New York State contract lost by subsidiary of News Corporation

The week of 22 August 2011, Wireless Generation,[100] a subsidiary of News Corporation, lost a no-bid contract with New York State to build an information system for tracking student performance as a direct consequence of the News International phone hacking scandal. Citing, "... vendor responsibility issues with the parent company of Wireless Generation," state comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said that the revelations surrounding News Corporation had made the final approval of the contract "untenable".[101]


A number of senior employees and executives resigned from News International and its parent company after the emergence of the new allegations, along with high-ranking officers of the Metropolitan Police Service.

News International's legal manager Tom Crone left the company on 13 July.[102] As part of his role at the publisher, Crone had served as the News of the World's chief lawyer and gave evidence before parliamentary committees stating that he had uncovered no evidence of phone hacking beyond the criminal offences committed by the royal editor Clive Goodman. He maintains that he did not see an internal report suggesting that phone hacking at the paper reached more widely than Goodman.[103]

Two key resignations were announced on 15 July. Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International, quit following widespread criticism of her role in the controversy.[104] In a statement, Brooks said that "my desire to remain on the bridge has made me a focal point of the debate", and stated that she would "concentrate on correcting the distortions and rebutting the allegations about my record".[105] Her exit was welcomed by political leaders. Prime Minister David Cameron's office said that her departure was "the right decision", while Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband agreed but suggested that she should have departed ten days earlier.[104] Tom Mockridge, the long-time chief executive of the Italian satellite broadcaster Sky Italia, was announced as Brooks' replacement at the head of News International.[104]

Later on the same day, Les Hinton resigned as the chief executive of the News Corporation subsidiary Dow Jones & Company.[106][107] Hinton had served as chief executive of News International between 1997, and 2005. He had previously told parliamentary committees that there was "never any evidence" of phone hacking beyond the case of Clive Goodman. In his resignation announcement, Hinton said that he was not told of "evidence that wrongdoing went further", but indicated that he nevertheless felt it "proper" to resign from his position.[107]

On 17 July, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and Britain's most senior police officer, Sir Paul Stephenson, announced his resignation with immediate effect. He had faced criticism for hiring former News of the World executive editor Neil Wallis as an advisor and for having received free hospitality at a luxury health spa owned by a company for which Wallis also worked.[108] Stephenson's resignation was followed by that of assistant commissioner John Yates on 18 July. Yates had been criticised for failing to re-open the original 2006 investigation into phone hacking at News International despite new evidence coming to light in 2009.


Matt Nixson was escorted by security from the Wapping headquarters of The Sun newspaper the evening of 20 July 2011. His computer was seized by News International officials and the police were said to have been informed. Nixson was a features editor at The Sun. It was reported that Nixson's dismissal was related to the time he spent at the News of the World from 2006, when it was edited by Coulson. At the News of the World he reported to assistant editor Ian Edmondson. [109] On 20 September it was reported that the Metropolitan police had written to News International to inform them that they did not intend to question Nixson over phone hacking. Nixson was reported to be considering bringing a case for unfair dismissal against his former employers.[110]


Pending the result of an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC – see below) enquiry into his dealings with Neil Wallis (see below), a former assistant editor of the News of the World, Dick Fedorcio,[111] director of public affairs and internal communication for the Metropolitan Police, was put on extended leave 10 August 2011. [112]


Details emerged 7 September 2011 that senior journalist Amelia Hill of The Guardian was questioned under caution, but not arrest, for several hours by officers from Operation Weeting the previous week. Hill, 37, has reported the names of individuals linked to the phone hacking scandal minutes after their arrests and it is thought her questioning is linked to the earlier arrest of a 51 year old detective suspected of leaking information to the newspaper. [113]


A full-page apology ad published in British newspapers by News International. The letter, signed by Rupert Murdoch, begins: "The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account. It failed when it came to itself."[114]

From 15 July, onwards, News Corp began to change its position through a series of public apologies. On 15 July, Rupert Murdoch in interview with the News Corp owned The Wall Street Journal apologised for the News of the World letting slip the group's standards of journalism.[citation needed] Murdoch also alleged that the group's legal advisers, Harbottle & Lewis, had made "a major mistake" in its part in the internal investigation into phone-hacking in 2007.[115] On 18 July, Harbottle & Lewis issued an open letter outlining its position, and appointed Luther Pendragon to handle PR issues relating to the affair.[116]

On 16 and 17 July, News International published two full-page apologies in many of Britain's national newspapers. The first apology took the form of a letter, signed by Rupert Murdoch, in which he said sorry for the "serious wrongdoing" that occurred. The second was titled "Putting right what's gone wrong", and gave more detail about the steps News International was taking to address the public's concerns.

On the afternoon before the ads were published, Rupert Murdoch also attended a private meeting in London with the family of Milly Dowler, where he apologised for the hacking of their murdered daughter's voicemail. The Dowler family's solicitor later said Murdoch appeared shaken and upset during the talks. He added that the Dowlers were surprised Murdoch's son James did not attend and called on the News International chairman to "take some responsibility" in the affair.[117]

Further arrests

Andy Coulson

The Guardian reported on 7 July 2011, that former News of the World editor and David Cameron's former spokesman Andy Coulson was to be arrested the following day, along with a senior journalist the paper refused to name.[118] Sky News reported on 8 July 2011, that Coulson had been formally arrested,[119] although the Metropolitan Police would only confirm that a "43-year-old man" had been arrested for "conspiring to intercept communications." It was also noted that the police could hold Coulson for up to 96 hours without charge as allowed under the Police (Detention and Bail) Act 2011, but must be either charged or released after that time.[120] The Conservative Party was quick to stand by its communications director Andy Coulson, who was editor of the News of the World at the time the alleged buggings took place.[121]

Neil Wallis

Former News of the World executive editor Neil Wallis was arrested in west London on 14 July on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications. He joined the paper in 2003, as a deputy to Coulson, and in 2007, became an executive editor before leaving in 2009. Later that year his media consultancy company began to advise Paul Stephenson and John Yates, two high-ranking Metropolitan Police officers, providing "strategic communications advice" until September 2010. During that time, Yates made the decision that the phone hacking needed no further investigation, despite The Guardian alleging that the previous investigation had been inadequate.[122] He was also paid to advise commissioner Stephenson and Yates.[80]

Rebekah Brooks

Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of the News of the World and former chief executive of News International, was arrested on 17 July on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and on suspicion of corruption. She was arrested by appointment at a London police station[123][124] by detectives working on Operation Weeting, the Metropolitan Police's phone hacking investigation, and Operation Elveden, the probe examining illicit payments to police officers.[125]

Following twelve hours in custody, Brooks was released on bail until late October.[126]

On 18 July, police reported the discovery of a rubbish bag containing a laptop, documents, a phone dumped in an underground parking garage near Brooks' home.[127] Brooks' husband had initially tried to claim the trash bag, which he said contained his property unrelated to the investigation.[128]

Stuart Kuttner, Greg Miskiw, James Desborough, Dan Evans and others

Stuart Kuttner, the former managing editor of the News of the World, was arrested on 2 August on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and on suspicion of corruption. He was arrested by appointment at a London police station by Operation Weeting and Operation Elveden detectives.[129][130] (Kuttner was re-arrested 30 August 2011 for further questioning.[131])

Eight days later, Greg Miskiw, a former News of the World news editor, was arrested on suspicion of unlawful interception of communications and conspiring to intercept communications. He was arrested by appointment at a London police station by detectives working on Operation Weeting, the police investigation into phone hacking.[132][133]

James Desborough was arrested after arriving, by appointment, at a south London police station the morning of 18 August 2011 for questions concerning criminal activities at the News of the World. His arrest was based on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications. Desborough was promoted to be the newspaper's Los Angeles-based US editor in 2009. Prior to that appointment, he was an award-winning show-business reporter based in London. [134]

Dan Evans, a former reporter for News of the World, was arrested and later bailed on 19 August 2011.[135] An unnamed 30 year old man was arrested and later bailed on 2 September 2011.[136]

In an early morning raid on his North London home on 7 September 2011, deputy football editor of The Times Raoul Simons (on extended leave from his job since September 2010) was arrested and held for questioning on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages by police officers from Operation Weeting.[137]

A reporter working for The Sun was arrested and taken to a south west London police station at 10.30 am on 4 November 2011. The man is the sixth person to be arrested in the UK under the News International-related legal probe, Operation Elveden. [138] The 48-year-old The Sun journalist Jamie Pyatt had been arrested by detectives on 4 November 2011, investigating illegal payments to police officers by journalists, and has been released on bail.[139][140][141][142][143]

Murdochs and Brooks summonsed to Parliament

On 14 July, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the House of Commons served a summons on Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks, expecting them to appear before the parliamentary committee on 19 July. After an initial invitation to give evidence to the committee, Brooks stated she would attend but the Murdochs declined. Rupert Murdoch claimed to be unavailable on that date but said he would be "fully prepared" to give evidence in Leveson's inquiry, while James Murdoch offered to appear on an alternative date, the earliest of which was 10 August. The Murdochs did, however, later confirm they would attend after the committee issued them a summons to Parliament.[144]

At their appearance before the committee, Rupert Murdoch said it had been "the most humble day of my life" and argued that since he ran a global business of 53,000 employees and that the News of the World was "just 1%" of this, he was not ultimately responsible for what went on at the tabloid; he added that he had not considered resigning. Meanwhile, his son James described the "illegal voicemail interceptions" as a "matter of great regret" but that the company was "determined to put things right and make sure they do not happen again". James Murdoch stated that News International had based its "push back" against new allegations on the combination of three pieces of evidence: that the Metropolitan Police had closed their investigation; that the Crown Prosecution Service had closed their prosecution; and that they had received the previously submitted written advice from their then legal advisors Harbottle & Lewis, that there was nothing to suggest phone hacking was not the work of one "rogue reporter" working with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.[145] Towards the end of the Murdochs' two hours of evidence, a protestor sitting in the public gallery, identified as self-described "comedian" Jonnie Marbles, threw a shaving-foam pie at Rupert Murdoch.[146][147] The incident propelled Rupert Mudoch's wife, Wendi Deng Murdoch, into the media spotlight for her athletic response in defense of her husband.[148][149] Marbles later detailed that he has "respect" for Deng.[150] Marbles, known off-stage as Jonathan May-Bowles, was sentenced to six weeks in prison for the attack.[151]

Harbottle & Lewis later commented that it could not respond to "any inaccurate statements or contentions" about the 2007 letter to News International due to client confidentiality.[145] Later on the same day, giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, former director of public prosecutions Lord MacDonald stated that it took him "three to five minutes" to decide that the same emails contained in the file passed to Harbottle & Lewis contained "blindingly obvious" evidence of corrupt payments to police officers, which had to be immediately passed to the Metropolitan Police.[22][152]

Brooks answered questions at the committee after the Murdochs and independently of them.[153][154] She began by calling the practice of phone hacking at the newspaper she edited as "pretty horrific".[155] Upon questioning, she confirmed that under her editorship she knew the News of the World hired private detectives but denied having ever met Glenn Mulcaire.[156]


The testimony of James Murdoch was questioned by two former News International executives. Murdoch had denied reading or being aware of an email, sent after he authorised an out-of-court payment to Gordon Taylor over the hacking of his phone, which suggested the practice was more widely used than just by a rogue News of the World reporter. A former editor of the newspaper, Colin Myler, and Tom Crone, the former News International legal manager, both said they "did inform" him of the email.[157]

News Corporation's management standards committee

On 18 July, News Corporation announced that its UK management standards committee would be removed from News International. It will now be housed in a separate building,[158] under the chairmanship of Lord Grabiner, and reporting to News Corporation director Joel Klein. As a result, existing News International executives Will Lewis and Simon Greenberg will resign their existing positions with News International and become News Corporation employees, focused initially on the clean-up of News International.[158] In September 2011 it was reported that the MSC was not issuing employees of News International who had had their contracts terminated with the reasons for their dismissal in case this would compromise the ongoing police inquiry.[159]

Death of Sean Hoare

On 18 July, former News of the World journalist Sean Hoare, who was the first reporter to tell of "endemic" phone hacking at the publication for which he used to work, was found dead at his home in Watford, Hertfordshire. A police spokesperson said the death was treated as "unexplained" but not suspicious.[160][161]

Daily Mirror allegations

On 20 July Private Eye questioned how the Sunday Mirror had in early 2003, obtained a transcript of phone calls by Angus Deayton, and in October 2003, had come into possession of every call and text message made by Rio Ferdinand one afternoon (when he claimed to have missed a drugs test due to having his mobile switched off). The latter story was co-written by James Weatherup, who moved to the News of the World the following year.[162]

On 22 July, former Daily Mirror financial journalist James Hipwell spoke to The Independent claiming that the practice had been "endemic" at the Mirror during his time there under the editorship of Piers Morgan.[163][164]

"They would call a celebrity with one phone and when it was answered they would then hang up. ... After they'd hacked into someone's mobile, they'd delete the message so another paper couldn't get the story. There was great hilarity about it."[165]

He also alleged that phone hacking took place at some of the Mirror's sister publications. Trinity Mirror, the publisher of the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror, rejected Hipwell's claims. A spokesman said: "Our position is clear...Our journalists work within the criminal law and the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct."[164] The BBC's Newsnight programme reported other sources at the Sunday Mirror confirming use of phone hacking, with one source saying "At one point in 2004, it seemed like it was the only way people were getting scoops." It was also said that the paper made use of private investigators.[166] On 26 July Trinity Mirror announced an internal review of its editorial procedures.[167]

On 3 August Heather Mills alleged that a senior journalist working for Trinity Mirror had admitted to her in 2001 that the company had access voicemail messages which they knew to have been obtained by hacking. In response Trinity Mirror repeated the statement used in rejecting James Hipwell's claims, saying "Our position is clear. All our journalists work within the criminal law and the PCC code of conduct."[168]

Also on 3 August 3 Piers Morgan issued a statement through CNN, his current employer, that “I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, nor to my knowledge published any story obtained from the hacking of a phone.”[169] However, this statement omitted comment on whether he had any knowledge of phone hacking by employees or paid contractors of the Mirror during the period he was editor there.

That Mr. Morgan did have knowledge of phone hacking is suggested in his own 2006 article in the Daily Mail regarding a phone message from Paul McCartney to his then girlfriend Heather Mills in which Mr. Morgan stated, "At one stage I was played a tape of a message Paul had left for Heather on her mobile phone. It was heartbreaking... The couple had clearly had a tiff, Heather had fled to India, and Paul was pleading with her to come back. He sounded lonely, miserable and desperate, and even sang 'We Can Work It Out ' into the answer phone."[170] On 3 August, Heather Mills told BBC's Newsnight: "There was absolutely no honest way that Piers Morgan could have obtained that tape ... unless they had gone into my voice messages."[171]

Harbottle and Lewis

During the internal investigation into the unfair dismissal claim against News Group Newspapers Limited by Glen Goodman, News International hired law firm Harbottle & Lewis (H&L) and passed on hundreds of internal emails to them.[172] Lawrence Abramson of Harbottle & Lewis (H&L) wrote a letter on 29 May 2007, to News International head of legal affairs Jon Chapman which said that they had

reviewed e-mails to which you have provided access from the accounts of Andy Coulson, Stuart Kuttner, Ian Edmondson, Clive Goodman, Neil Wallis, Jules Stenson.....

...did not find anything in those e-mails which appeared to us to be reasonable evidence that Clive Goodman's illegal actions were known about and supported by both or either of Andy Coulson, the editor, and Neil Wallis, the deputy editor, and/or that Ian Edmondson, the news editor, and others were carrying out similar illegal procedures.

The letter from Mr Abramson to Mr Chapman makes no mention of whether the e-mails contain evidence of wrongdoing by journalists other than Mr Goodman[173]

It has been reported that NI executives urged H&L to give them a clean bill of health in the strongest possible terms, that earlier draft letters by H&L were rejected by NI, and that lawyers on both sides seemed to struggle to find language that said the review had found no evidence of wrongdoing.[174] This information was provided by "two people familiar with both the contents of the e-mails and the discussions between the executives and the law firm".

This letter was subsequently used by various News International executives in their defence during a parliamentary investigation into phone hacking in 2009.[173]

In July 2011, Rupert Murdoch alleged in interview with The Wall Street Journal that H&L made "a major mistake" in its part in an internal investigation into phone-hacking at News International.[114] On 18 July 2011, the H&L issued an open letter outlining its position,[175] and appointed Luther Pendragon to handle PR issues relating to the affair.[175] On 19 July, Lord MacDonald the former Director of Public Prosecutions engaged by News Corporation to review the emails handed to Harbottle & Lewis in 2007, said in evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee:[152]

I have to tell you that the material I saw was so blindingly obvious that anyone trying to argue that it shouldn't be given to the police would have had a very tough task

At his appearance before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee on 19 July, James Murdoch stated that News International had based its "push back" against new allegations on the combination of three pieces of evidence, and one of these was the previously submitted written advice from their then legal advisors H&L.[114]

On 20 July, H&L issued a statement saying that they had asked News International to release them from their professional duty of confidentiality, which had been declined by News International. The company had since written to John Whittingdale MP, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, asking to provide evidence to the committee.[176][177]

On 21 July, News International authorised H&L to answer questions from the Metropolitan Police Service and parliamentary select committees in respect of what they were asked to do.[178] Neil Rose, editor of, commented that the exact form of News International's waiver means H&L will not be able to declare its innocence, but only answer questions by the police or parliament.[179]

On the 22 July, Tom Watson MP published a letter from the Solicitors Regulation Authority, in response to his letter expressing concerns about Harbottle and Lewis's part in the phone-hacking affair. In the letter, Anthony Townsend, Chief Executive of the SRA said:[180]

On the basis of our preliminary review of the public domain material, we have decided to instigate a formal investigation. We will pursue our investigation vigorously and thoroughly, but emphasise that our inquiries are at an early stage, and that no conclusions have been reached about whether there may have been any impropriety by any solicitor

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee wrote to H&L on 29 July asking a series of detailed questions about the interaction between NI and H&L.[181]

H&L replied to this request on 11 August.[182][183] in what was described as “a withering attack on News International and the Murdochs”.[184]

H&L said that it provided very narrow advice on whether the emails in question could be used to support Clive Goodman's allegations that his illegal activities were known about and supported by other employees at NOTW. They were not retained to provide NI with a "good conduct certificate” which they could show to parliament.

H&L state that the terms of terms of their contract with NI explicitly stated that their advice should not be disclosed to a third party without H&L’s prior written consent. They also state that if NI “had approached them (as it should have done) before presenting the letter to Parliament as evidence of its corporate innocence, H&L would not have agreed to this without further discussion”.

They also state that they could not have reported NI to the police even if they had found evidence of criminal activity in the emails, because of client confidentiality.

Their fee for the work was £10,294 + VAT. The letter suggests that this amount be compared with James Murdoch's evidence where he said that he had been told that the litigation costs in the Gordon Taylor and Max Clifford cases were expected to be between £500,000 and £1m.

Further UK investigations

The scandal has triggered multiple investigations from various governmental agencies looking at other News Corporation-owned media outlets in addition to News of the World.

With the unfolding scandal at the News of the World came allegations that another News Corporation-owned tabloid, The Sun, itself engaged in phone hacking. In February 2011, the Metropolitan Police investigated the claims of Scottish trade union leader Andy Gilchrist, who accused The Sun of hacking into his mobile phone in order to run negative stories about him; the stories were published shortly after Rebekah Brooks was installed as the paper's editor.[185]

On 5 July 2011, the head of the Press Complaints Commission Baroness Buscombe said in interview with Andrew Neil on the BBC programme The Daily Politics, that she had been lied to by the News of the World over phone hacking.[186] Buscombe said that she did not know the extent of the scandal when she joined the PCC in 2009, but stated that she had been "misled by the News of the World" after she had previously concluded just the opposite.[186] Buscome further admitted that her statement put out in 2009, when the PCC had reviewed the 2007 evidence, that "Having reviewed all the information available, we concluded that we were not materially misled;"[187] was now[when?] in hindsight incorrect.[186] This led to Labour leader Ed Milliband calling the PCC a "toothless poodle," and in agreement with Prime Minister David Cameron proposed the creation of a new press watchdog.[188]

On 11 July, the day after the News of the World ceased publication, The Guardian reported that Scotland Yard was investigating both The Sun and The Sunday Times for illegally gaining access to the financial, phone, and legal records of former prime minister Gordon Brown. It was also reported that The Sun improperly obtained medical information on Brown's infant son in order to publish stories about his diagnosis of cystic fibrosis. Brown issued a statement saying that his family was "shocked by the level of criminality and the unethical means by which personal details have been obtained."[189] On 22 July Private Eye reported that sometime between 2001, and 2004, a BBC PR man for EastEnders had suspected his voicemail was being intercepted. The Eye said that the man's suspicions were confirmed when he had a friend leave a voicemail concerning a fake story about EastEnders, and that same evening received call from a Sun reporter declaring that they had "proof" of the fake story.[190]

Leveson inquiry

On 6 July 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron announced to parliament that a public government inquiry would convene to further investigate the affair. On 13 July, Cameron named Lord Justice Leveson as chairman of the inquiry, with a remit to look into the specific claims about phone hacking at the News of the World, the initial police inquiry and allegations of illicit payments to police by the press, and a second inquiry to review the general culture and ethics of the British media.[2]

On 20 July 2011, Cameron announced in a speech to Parliament the final terms of reference of Leveson's inquiry, stating that it will extend beyond newspapers to include broadcasters and social media. He also announced a panel of six people who will work with the judge on the inquiry:[191]

It was subsequently reported in the media that Leveson had attended two parties in the prior 12 months at the London home of Matthew Freud, a PR executive married to Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of Rupert Murdoch.[192][193]

On 14 September 2011, the Leveson Inquiry issued a press release[194] providing details on the background, scope, and procedural plans for the inquiry. Part 1 of the inquiry would focus on ethical questions, specifically "the culture, practices and ethics of the press, including contacts between the press and politicians and the press and the police." Part 2 would focus on legal questions, specifically "the extent of unlawful or improper conduct within News International, other media organisations or other organisations. It will also consider the extent to which any relevant police force investigated allegations relating to News International, and whether the police received corrupt payments or were otherwise complicit in misconduct." Part 2 would not begin right away because of ongoing investigations by law enforcement organizations. The press release also named 46 celebrities, politicians, sportsmen, other public figures, and members of the public who may have been victims of media intrusion and who were granted "core participant" status in the inquiry.[195] Core participants may, through their legal representatives, ask questions of witnesses giving oral evidence.[196] Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive officer News International, requested but did not receive core participant status.[197] The inquiry is scheduled to begin on the 14 November 2011.[198]

Home Affairs Select Committee

The Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) has taken various forms of evidence and undertaking during the whole affair, and continues to investigate various aspects as part of its normal parliamentary undertakings.

On the afternoon of the 19 July 2011, the HASC took evidence from both holders of the position of the Director of Public Prosecutions, for the period which covered the scandal.[22] Lord Macdonald, in charge of the Crown Prosecution Service when prosecution of Goodman and Mulcaire was undertaken, stated that he had only been alerted to the case due to the convention that the DPP is always notified of crimes involving the royal family.[22] Committee member Mark Reckless, Conservative MP for Rochester and Strood, stated that the original 2007 police investigation and the 2009 review had both been hindered by the advice from the CPS, that "phone hacking was only an offence if messages had been intercepted before they were listened to by the intended recipient;" which was in fact incorrect.[22] Current[when?] DPP Keir Starmer in evidence stated that the CPS had told the Metropolitan Police that "the RIPA legislation was untested."[22] Mark Lewis, the solicitor acting for a number of phone hacking victims including the family of Milly Dowler, stated in evidence that he was sacked from his job when fellow partners at his law firm stated they no longer wished to pursue other victims claims. Lewis stated that he, The Guardian newspaper, and Labour MP Chris Bryant had all been threatened to be sued by solicitors Carter-Ruck acting for AC John Yates, all the costs for which after the actions were dropped were picked up by the Metropolitan Police; Lewis submitted letters from Carter Ruck in evidence to the committee. In closing, Lewis stated that the reason for the investigation having taking so long was not only due to the Metropolitan Police: "The DPP seems to have got it wrong and needs to be helped out."[22]

On 20 July 2011, the HASC published their completed report on the UK Parliament website. In that report, the Committee says:[199]

"We deplore the response of News International to the original investigation into hacking. It is almost impossible to escape the conclusion voiced by Mr Clarke that they were deliberately trying to thwart a criminal investigation."[200]

Mark Lewis

Lewis, who is not connected with the Harbotte & Lewis firm, first engaged with News of the World in 2005 when it was moving to print a story asserting marital infidelity on Gordon Taylor's part. Lewis worked for George Davies Solicitors LLP in Manchester specializing in defamation cases and was able to persuade the paper not to run the story. In 2006, in the criminal trial over the hacking of royals' phones, it became public that the paper had also hacked, among others, Taylor's phone. In his "eureka moment", Lewis realized then that it was hacked information which had led to the earlier story about Taylor. From that insight came the realization that the paper had a potential civil liability from its hacking practices, and that led to Taylor's civil case. In 2011, working now with Taylor Hampton Solicitors in London, Lewis seems about to close a $4.7 million settlement in the Dowler case and has "more than 70 clients who believe News of the World illegally intercepted their cellphone voice mails", according to a Wall Street Journal story.[201]

Media, Culture and Sport Select Commitee

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee spent 6 September 2011 questioning 4 witnesses: the News of the World’s former editor Colin Myler, News Group Newspapers’ former legal manager Tom Crone, its former group human resources director, Daniel Cloke, and News International’s former director of legal affairs, Jonathan Chapman:.[202]

Independent Police Complaints Commission

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has been charged or filed to perform various investigations. These presently include:[203]

  • An investigation of the relationship between Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and Neil Wallis, and the Commissioner's stay at Champneys health resort
  • An investigation into the conduct of Assistant Commissioner John Yates, with regards his review of the original investigation in 2009
  • An investigation into the conduct of Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, with regards his conduct within the original investigation in 2007
  • An investigation into the conduct of Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman, with regards his conduct within the original investigation in 2007
  • An investigation into Met Police head of PR Dick Fedorcio, his links with Neil Wallis, and the circumstances under which the Met awarded a contract to Wallis's media consultancy firm Chamy Media[203]
  • An investigation of the employment of Neil Wallis's daughter Amy with the Metropolitan Police, alleged to have been at the request of John Yates

Elizabeth Filkin

On 18 July 2011, it was announced that former parliamentary commissioner for standards Elizabeth Filkin would "recommend changes to links between the police and the media, including how to extend transparency."[204]

Clive Goodman's 2007 letter

It was revealed that both John Whittingdale and Tom Watson may need to speak to James Murdoch again as the Commons culture select committee about recalling James Murdoch. An MP has released a letter from the now jailed journalist, alleging senior News of the World figures knew that the hacking scandal was going on, when the former royal editor, Clive Goodman, wrote his letter to News International as he appealed against his dismissal in 2007.[205]

"The News of the World's legal manager Tom Crone attended virtually every meeting of my legal team and was given full access to the Crown Prosecution Service's evidence files." according to Clive Goodman's letter.[205]

Ethical concerns, legal concerns and possible implications

Criticism of News International culture

The effect of the phone hacking scandal originating with the News of the World also raised wider questions about the ethics employed by companies under Murdoch's ownership, as well as the effects the scandal will have on the ethics employed specifically by print journalists and to some extent the wider world of journalism.[206]

Murdoch had previously been criticised for building a media empire that lacked any ethical base[206] and replacing responsible journalism with "gossip, sensationalism, and manufactured controversy."[207] Karl Grossman, a professor of journalism at State University of New York College at Old Westbury, accused Murdoch of building the most "dishonest, unprincipled and corrupt" media empire in history and of "making a travesty of what journalism is supposed to be about." Grossman also claimed that News Corporation changes the culture of their newly-acquired news outlets, using them to promote Murdoch's political and financial interests. Once-acclaimed newspapers such as the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Times have been accused of becoming an "instrument" to aide politicians that Murdoch favours.[206]

In an analysis of the culture of the Murdoch empire in Newsweek in July 2011, one of Murdoch's former top executives was quoted as saying: "This scandal and all its implications could not have happened anywhere else. Only in Murdoch's orbit. The hacking at News of the World was done on an industrial scale. More than anyone, Murdoch invented and established this culture in the newsroom, where you do whatever it takes to get the story, take no prisoners, destroy the competition, and the end will justify the means." This same executive went on to say, "In the end, what you sow is what you reap. Now Murdoch is a victim of the culture that he created. It is a logical conclusion, and it is his people at the top who encouraged lawbreaking and hacking phones and condoned it."[207]

In 2010, it was also suggested that the journalistic approach of such newspapers at the News of the World had brought into public focus that there had been a shift away from the traditional ethics of journalism, raising serious questions about privacy, freedom of speech, and confidentiality.[208] There were also observations in the North American Press about the ethics employed by the News of the World. NBC New York noted that the old journalistic maxim, "Get it first. But, first, get it right," although speaking for accurate reporting does not address the situation where in the case of the News of the World information was allegedly obtained in an unethical way or by illegal means.[209] The approach was also criticised by Stephen B. Shepard, dean of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, who commenting on the phone hacking scandal, said: "It's wrong. It's not a grey area. What they did was illegal and, even if it weren't, it's just plain wrong. There's no defence for it. Even the government needs a warrant to get into a house or a computer. You can't break into something like this and get away with it."[209]

Impact on ethics of internet journalism

Rem Rieder, editor of the American Journalism Review, drew attention to the increased role the internet plays in society as part of the reason for the ethical problems in journalism, pointing out that "Journalism never sleeps in the fast-paced 24/7 online news culture."[210] Laura Bazuik, a Canadian journalist, suggested that the News of the World controversy exemplified how the internet has caused a competitive, high-pressure environment to emerge in media and journalism, where errors and ethical issues in reporting bypass normal checks.[211]

Ethical backlash

Prime Minister David Cameron first intimated in early July 2011, that an investigation by Parliament on media ethics and standards will be carried out. Soon after he announced that two independent enquiries, led by a senior judge would take place. This led to anxieties being expressed by newspaper editors about the impact of state media regulation on the free press.[212] There was also concerns amongst journalists that new regulations would be enacted as a means of reining in the press—"an attack on the power of the press itself"—rather than more effective self regulation and ensuring a stricter enforcement of existing legislation to deter the use of phone hacking, breaches of privacy laws and bribery of public officials.[213] A further major concern was expressed that more stringent regulation will not assist the ordinary people who were the subject of investigative journalism, whereas powerful corporations will still have the money, power, and resources to get out of any tough situation they might encounter.[213]

The consequences of the exposure of ethical transgressions that occurred at News of the World have also led to concerns that such practices could be happening at other News Corporation titles in Britain. Furthermore there has been speculation that American news companies that are a part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire may have become implicated.[214]

Impact in other countries


News Limited announces review

In light of News Corporations global review, John Hartigan, the CEO of News Corporation's Australian company News Limited, announced a review of all payments in the previous three years, and that he was personally willing to co-operate with any Australian Government led inquiry.[215] The Australian Green party called for a parliamentary inquiry into News Limited, but Hartigan directly denied allegations by both the Greens and the governing Labor party that News Limited has been running a campaign against them, describing his group's journalism as "aggressive but fair."[215]

Australian Government announces formal review

While the scope of the enquiry was yet to be finalized, a spokesman for the Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that the current administration under the Labor Party had decided that an investigation was required.

News Limited chairman John Hartigan vowes full cooperation with the government inquiry.[216]

United States

News Corporation owns a multitude of news outlets in the United States, including the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and the Fox News Channel. Several media critics have called for investigations into whether they too engaged in phone hacking activities. In addition to any possible illegal activities in the U.S., News Corporation and/or its executives might also face civil and criminal liability under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.[217]

Further controversy was aroused by an unsigned editorial[218] in the News Corporation-owned Wall Street Journal which lashed out against News Corporation's critics, thereby specifically pointing fingers at the BBC, The Guardian and news website ProPublica. At the same time, the editorial praised former publisher Les Hinton who had just resigned in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.[218] Many observers were frustrated by the Wall Street Journal's comments. Jay Rosen, professor of journalism at New York University, trenchantly criticized the "deluded dishonest whining victimology delivered in the form of a Wall Street Journal editorial on the phone hacking crisis".[219] Sarah Ellison of Vanity Fair commented: "Tonite's WSJ Editorial is sad. I've always defended the Edit page, but now It's a PR arm."[219]

One of the two journalists who uncovered the Watergate scandal has said that he was "struck by the parallels" between the News of the World phone-hacking affair and the saga that brought down Richard Nixon in the 1970s. Carl Bernstein said that the two events were "shattering cultural moments of huge consequence that are going to be with us for generations" and that both were "about corruption at the highest levels, about the corruption of the process of a free society". The American reporter, speaking at an event in London organised by the Guardian, specifically likened Rupert Murdoch, the NoW's proprietor, to the ousted US president in his relation to criminal acts and alleged criminal acts conducted by their respective employees and subordinates.[220]


Key events in the scandal to date:[221][222]

  • February 2010 (2010-02) – A Culture, Media and Sport select committee report finds no evidence that News of the World editor Andy Coulson knew of phone hacking taking place at his publication. It does however say it is "inconceivable" that no one apart from royal editor Clive Goodman was aware of it. [223]
  • 9 March 2010 (2010-03-09) – The Guardian reports that publicist Max Clifford was paid £1 million to drop legal action that could have revealed more News of the World reporters hacked phones.[224]
  • 1 September 2010 (2010-09-01) – The New York Times quotes Sean Hoare, a former News of the World reporter, as claiming phone hacking was encouraged at the tabloid; he also tells the BBC that phone hacking was "endemic" at the paper and that Coulson asked him to do it. Paul McMullan, another former journalist at the News of the World, claims that other illegal reporting techniques were widespread.[225]
  • 5 January 2011 (2011-01-05) – The News of the World suspends assistant news editor Ian Edmondson over hacking allegations. Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire claimed Edmonson commissioned him to hack phones. [226]
  • April 2011 (2011-04) – Edmondson, journalist James Weatherup and senior reporter Neville Thurlbeck are all arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and unlawfully accessing voicemail messages. [227]
  • April 2011 (2011-04) – June 2011 – Several claimants, including actress Sienna Miller and football pundit Andy Gray, receive damage awards from the News of the World. [228]
  • 4 July 2011 (2011-07-04) – The Guardian reports that the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler was hacked by the News of the World.[229] Rebekah Brooks was editor of the tabloid at the time but said it is "inconceivable" that she knew of the activity. Subsequent revelations include those suggesting relatives of British soldiers killed in action and victims and relatives of the 7/7 attack victims were also hacked. [230][231]
  • 6 July 2011 (2011-07-06) – Prime Minister David Cameron announces government inquiry into the unfolding scandal.[232]
  • 7 July 2011 (2011-07-07) – News International announce the closure of the News of the World, with the last edition to be published on 10 July.[233]
  • 8 July 2011 (2011-07-08) – Andy Coulson is arrested over alleged phone hacking and making illegal payments to police. Clive Goodman is also arrested on suspicion of making illegal payments to police.[234]
  • 11 July 2011 (2011-07-11) – The Guardian reports two other News Corporation outlets may have illegally accessed records of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. [235]
  • 13 July 2011 (2011-07-13) – BSkyB takeover withdrawn by News Corporation.[236]
  • 14 July 2011 (2011-07-14) – Former News of the World executive editor Neil Wallis arrested. [237]
  • 15 July 2011 (2011-07-15) – Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, and Les Hinton, chief executive of Dow Jones & Company, both resign.[238]
  • 17 July 2011 (2011-07-17) – Brooks arrested over corruption and phone hacking. Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson resigns.[239]
  • 18 July 2011 (2011-07-18) – David Cameron postpones parliamentary recess by one day. John Yates resigns as assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Former News of the World reporter and the first to allege phone hacking at the publication, Sean Hoare, is found dead at his home in Hertfordshire. Theresa May tells the House of Commons she has launched an inquiry into malpractices and alleged corruption within the Police.[240]
  • 19 July 2011 (2011-07-19) – Brooks, Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch appeared before the parliamentary media committee in London for questioning.[241]
  • 20 July 2011 (2011-07-20) – Parliament committee report released, Cameron appeared in parliament and at 1922 Committee.[242]
  • 20 July 2011 (2011-07-20) – Matt Nixson dismissed as features editor of The Sun newspaper. [243]
  • 22 July 2011 (2011-07-22) – The Solicitors Regulation Authority announced an investigation into Harbottle & Lewis, the former solicitors of News International. [244]
  • 2 August 2011 (2011-08-02) – Former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner arrested.[245]
  • 10 August 2011 (2011-08-10) – Former News of the World news editor Greg Miskiw arrested.[246]
  • 10 August 2011 (2011-08-10) – Director of public affairs and internal communication for the Metropolitan Police, Dick Fedorcio, put on extended leave. [247]
  • 16 August 2011 (2011-08-16) – The Guardian publishes a letter by Goodman that implicates senior staffers at the News of the World, including Coulson, in extensively discussing and covering-up phone hacking. [248]
  • 18 August 2011 (2011-08-18) – Former News of the World US editor James Desborough arrested. [249]
  • 18 August 2011 (2011-08-18) – The Independent Glenn Mulcaire suing News International. A private investigator jailed over phone hacking is taking legal action against News International, the company confirmed today.[250]
  • 19 August 2011 (2011-08-19) – Former News of the World reporter Dan Evans arrested. [251]
  • 22 August 2011 (2011-08-22) – (week of) News Corporation subsidiary Wireless Generation loses New York State contract for education information system provision. [252]
  • 30 August 2011 (2011-08-30) – Former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner re-arrested and bailed until a date in September 2011. [253]
  • 2 September 2011 (2011-09-02) – Arrest of a 30 year old man, whom The Guardian identified as Ross Hall, a former reporter for News of the World who wrote under the pen name of Ross Hindley.[254]
  • 6 September 2011 (2011-09-06) – Daniel Cloke, Jonathan Chapman, Colin Myler and Tom Crone are questioned by the Committee for Media, Culture and Sports. Leveson inquiry has first hearing. [255]
  • 7 September 2011 (2011-09-07) – Deputy football editor of The Times, Raoul Simons, arrested. [256]
  • 13 September 2011 (2011-09-13) – Australian Government announces formal inquiry into behaviour of the Australian media. [257]
  • 14 September 2011 (2011-09-14) – Culture, Media and Sport Committee decide to recall James Murdoch and Les Hinton for further questioning.[258]. The Leveson Inquiry provides background, scope, and procedural plans for the inquiry. [259]
  • 10 November 2011 (2011-11-10) – James Murdock appears before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. [260]
  • 21 November 2011 (2011-11-21) – Leveson inquiry receives witness testimony from the family of Milly Dowler, solicitor Graham Shear, writer Joan Smith and Hugh Grant[261]

See also


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