News Corp. Hacking Scandal Grows

In the midst of the expanding scandal with Rupert Murdoch-owned <"">News Corp., there has been at least one arrest and more resignations over the weekend. It is believed the scandal dates as far back as 2005. MSNBC estimates that some 4,000 phones have been hacked.

News Corp. is accused of compromising the privacy of celebrities and the phone used by David Cameron, British Prime Minister, and of hacking the phones of our most vulnerable victims. Allegations garnered global attention when News Corp.-owned News of the World was accused of allegedly hacking the phones of those who died in the September 11th terrorist attacks and of the telephone of 13-year-old murder victim, Milly Dowler. The tabloid’s hack involved deleting existing messages to make room for more messages. In Milly’s case, the nefarious hack gave her grieving family false hope that, perhaps, Milly was, miraculously, still alive. The tabloid shut down last week.

Also last week, Rebekah Brooks, the now-former CEO of News International, the United Kingdom’s newspaper unit, resigned when the FBI announced its probe into the scandal. Over the weekend, said The Wall Street Journal, which is also News Corp.-owned, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson, made the shocking announcement that he, too, was resigning. The head of Scotland Yard relieved himself of his post on Sunday, said the Journal, as accusations continue that some of his force were corrupt and cozied up to News of the World. “I may wish we had done some things differently, but I will not lose sleep over my personal integrity,” said Sir Paul, quoted The Journal.

The prime minister cut short a trade mission as Sir Paul launched what MSNBC described as a “coded attack on Cameron.” “I had no knowledge of the extent of this disgraceful practice (of phone hacking),” Stephenson said in a televised statement, quoted MSNBC. It seems the police hired former News of the World tabloid editor, Neil Wallis, as a public relations advisor. One of the allegations accuses Sir Paul of staying at a chic spa where Wallis worked as an advisor, said MSNBC. Wallis was arrested in connection with the scandal and Stephenson claimed his resignation had nothing to do with the spa activity and that he was concentrating on Wallis’ hiring as a police consultant, said The Guardian. “I played no role in the letting or management of that contract,” Sir Paul said quoted MSNBC.

Meanwhile, Andy Coulson, another former News of the Word editor hired by Cameron as a public relations advisor, resigned over the scandal and was arrested earlier this month, said MSNBC. “Unlike Mr. Coulson, Mr. Wallis had not resigned from the News of the World or, to the best of my knowledge, been in any way associated with the original phone hacking investigation,” said Stephenson, according to The Guardian.

On Friday, Les Hinton, a former head of Murdoch’s UK newspaper business, resigned as chief executive of Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, said MSNBC.

Meanwhile, Brooks was arrested Sunday over allegations connected to the hacking debacle concerning police official bribery by News of the World Staff, said the Journal. Brooks had been an editor at that paper and is said to have been friendly with Prime Minister Cameron as well as her boss, Murdoch. Brooks was released late Sunday and charges were not filed. Also, Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive; his son, James, deputy chief operating officer at News Corp., and Brooks have agreed to testify this week at a Parliamentary hearing to answer questions about the hacking scandal, said The Journal; the three will not be under oath. All three initially declined the request, but had a change of heart when told a summons would be issued, said The Journal. Parliament’s hearings concern if News International executives misled that committee previously. Questioning, said the Journal, is expected to be “tough.” Following Brooks’ arrest, the chairman of Parliament’s Culture, Media, and Sport committee is looking into legal advice concerning her attendance and appropriate questioning, said The Journal.

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