RAW Story: Murdoch inquiry grows to include computer hacking

-from Reuters

August 1, 2011- Police investigating phone hacking at the News of the World were set Saturday to extend their probe into claims that computers were hacked, in a fresh threat to Rupert Murdoch's embattled empire.

The Metropolitan police said late Friday it was establishing a new team of officers to examine claims which emerged during its current phone-hacking investigation that computers may have also been illegally accessed.

The move heaped further pressure on Murdoch's embattled News Corp. conglomerate the same day an investigator at the heart of the controversy said he acted on orders from News of the World (NotW), axed this month as the scandal erupted.

Private detective Glenn Mulcaire's comments are a challenge to claims by Murdoch's empire that he was a rogue operator.

Meanwhile a parliamentary committee said it had ordered Murdoch's son and heir apparent James to give written clarification of answers he gave on the scandal last week.

Murdoch has been struggling for weeks to stem the spiralling scandal, which has dragged in police and politicians and spread to the United States and Australia.

But there was little sign Saturday that the crisis was about to die down, with police laying the ground to start probing allegations of computer hacking.

The Guardian: Phone hacking: News International mass-deleted emails, tech firm says

HCL reveals News International's various requests for deletion but tells MPs it knew of nothing untoward

-by Patrick Wintour, political editor

August 1, 2011- The technology firm HCL has told the home affairs select committee it was aware of the deletion of hundreds of thousands of emails at the request of News International between April 2010 and July 2011, but said it did not know of anything untoward behind the requests to delete them.

HCL has sent the letter to the home affairs select committee chairman, Keith Vaz , revealing it had been involved in nine separate episodes of email deletion.

HCL says it is not the company responsible for emails on the News International system that are older than a couple of weeks. It says another unnamed vendor is responsible, but confirms it has co-operated with this vendor in deleting material.

Reuters: UK police add computer probe to phone-hack inquiry

-by Olesya Dmitracova & Tim Pearce

July 30, 2011- London police probing phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch's defunct News of the World tabloid are broadening their investigation to allegations of computer hacking, they said on Saturday.

A new investigative team will be set up to tackle the new allegations, reporting to Sue Akers, the officer in charge of the phone hacking probe, the Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement.

"Operation Tuleta is currently considering a number of allegations regarding breach of privacy, received by the MPS since January 2011, which fall outside the remit of (phone-hacking) Operation Weeting, including computer hacking," the statement by the London police force said.

"Some aspects of this operation will move forward to a formal investigation."

London police reopened their investigation into phone hacking in January, shortly after the prime minister's communications chief, Andy Coulson, resigned because of allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World while he was the paper's editor.

The paper's royal reporter Clive Goodman and private detective Glenn Mulcaire were jailed in 2007 for intercepting the voicemail messages of royal aides.

The Independent: Mensch goes public after email threatens to expose drug use

-By Oliver Wright, Whitehall Editor

July 30, 2011- A Conservative MP who questioned Rupert and James Murdoch about the extent of journalistic malpractice on Fleet Street yesterday suggested that she herself may have become a victim of a smear campaign.

Louise Mensch revealed she had received an email from a group called "David Jones Investigative Journalists" alleging she had taken drugs with violinist Nigel Kennedy in the 1990s, written a novel of a sexual nature while she was supposed to be working for the record label EMI and included derogatory references in the book to her line manager at the company.

The email suggested David Jones Investigative Journalists intended to publish the claims (although it did not say where) and asked for her response. That came yesterday – when Ms Mensch replied to the email, copying in Westminster journalists and Conservative chief whip Patrick Mcloughlin.

Her extraordinarily frank reply admitted some of the allegations, built on others and blew away any chance that those who sent the email could have an exclusive story on their hands.

Huffington Post: New York Post Staff Told To Preserve Documents That May Relate To Phone Hacking

-By Ryan Nakashima

July 29, 2011- New York Post staffers have been told to preserve any documents that may relate to phone hacking or payoffs to officials, as News Corp. prepares for a probe into its U.K. operations to reach across the Atlantic.

Post editor Col Allan sent a memo to staff Friday asking them to comply with the request from company lawyers.

Allan wrote that as the scandal at News Corp.'s News of the World tabloid unfolded in the U.K. "we knew that as a News Corporation tabloid, we would be looked at more closely."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder plans to meet on Aug. 24 with some 9/11 family members about an FBI inquiry into allegations that News of the World journalists attempted to bribe a former New York City policeman to get phone records of Sept. 11 victims.

The FBI probe is in its preliminary stages and it is unclear if it will look at News Corp. properties beyond the U.K. tabloid.

A News Corp. spokeswoman declined to comment further.

LA Times: Old accusations against News Corp. in U.S. could get new scrutiny

-by Joe Flint

July 29, 2011- While British lawmakers and law enforcement officials continue to investigate News Corp. and its now-shuttered News of the World tabloid for illegal phone hacking, old accusations of corporate espionage made against the media giant in the United States could receive new attention in the weeks ahead.

Over the last decade, there have been several lawsuits against units of News Corp. with allegations of corporate espionage -- specifically hacking into computer systems to gain competitive information. In some cases, the companies that made those claims were later acquired by News Corp. and the suits went away or were settled.

The statute of limitations has likely expired for the bulk of these cases, but they could provide a hook for a fishing expedition into the operations of News Corp. by the government to determine whether hacking is something limited to its British tabloid or part of the broader culture at the company.

"They absolutely will look at past conduct," said Rebecca Lonergan, a former prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office who now teaches at USC's Gould School of Law. Lonergan said past behavior is something that the government would factor in to determine whether a criminal investigation is merited.

New York Times: 2007 Letter Clearing a Tabloid Comes Under Scrutiny

-By Jo Becker and Don Van Natta Jr.

July 29, 2011- When a Parliamentary committee first confronted The News of the World with charges of phone hacking in 2007, the paper’s owners produced a reassuring, one-paragraph letter from a prominent London law firm named Harbottle & Lewis.

The firm had been hired to review the e-mail of the tabloid’s royal reporter, who had pleaded guilty to hacking the cellphone messages of royal household staff members. The letter said senior editors were not aware of the reporter’s “illegal actions,” which helped convince lawmakers that hacking was not endemic at the tabloid.

That letter has taken on new significance since it emerged in recent weeks that those e-mails, while not pointing to wider knowledge of hacking, did contain indications of payoffs to the police by journalists in exchange for information. The circumstances behind the writing of that single paragraph are being examined as part of criminal and parliamentary inquiries into whether the tabloid’s parent company, News International, the British subsidiary of the News Corporation, engineered a four-year cover-up of information suggesting criminal wrongdoing.

Christian Science Monitor: Another phone hacking victim, another blow to Murdoch's power in Britain

Revelations of another phone hacking victim – the mother of 8-year-old murder victim Sarah Payne – adds to a culture war that pits Rupert Murdoch’s profit-driven ethos against Britain's establishment press.

-By Robert Marquand

July 29, 2011- At the start of July, Rupert Murdoch was days from acquiring full control of Britain’s most profitable satellite TV, British Sky Broadcasting, known as BSkyB. He already owned 39 percent of it. But a full buyout would clear the way to create a British equivalent of Fox News, the US channel and one of Mr. Murdoch’s biggest cash cows. The step would have marked another triumph for the global Murdoch News Corp. empire. And it had the cultivated support and blessing of Prime Minister David Cameron.

Instead, what Murdoch got on July 4 was a phone-hacking scandal so volcanic that 10 days later he ended his BSkyB bid, and later apologized to a world audience.

What Mr. Cameron got was questions about why he hired Andy Coulson, a former Murdoch editor who presided over the sleaziest period of phone hacking, for one of the most important jobs at 10 Downing Street.

RAW Story: Phone hacking inquiry opens in U.K.

-By Agence France-Presse

July 28, 2011- The public inquiry into Britain's phone hacking scandal opened on Thursday, with judge Brian Leveson and his six-strong panel holding their first official meeting.

The inquiry, called by Prime Minister David Cameron in the wake of allegations of wrongdoing at the now-shuttered News of the World tabloid, has 12 months to report back to government with its conclusions.

"The focus of the inquiry is the culture, practices and ethics of the press in the context of the latter's relationship with the public, the police and politicians," Leveson said in his opening remarks.

The inquiry probing Britain's phone hacking scandal will start by looking at media ethics and press regulation, Leveson said.

The inquiry chief said he would hold seminars in October on topics including the law, journalistic ethics, investigative journalism and press freedom.

"I hope than an appropriate cross section of the entire profession (including those from the broadcast media) will be involved in the discussion," he said.

Witness evidence will be given under oath, a spokesman for the inquiry told AFP.

Huffington Post: News of the World Hacked Into Phone Of Sara Payne, Mother Of Sarah Payne, Abducted And Murdered Girl

-By Jack Mirkinson

July 28, 2011- The News of the World hacked into the phone of Sara Payne, the mother of Sarah Payne, an abducted and murdered 8-year-old girl, the Guardian reported Tuesday.

It was the hacking of 13-year-old Milly Dowler's phone that turned the long-simmering phone hacking scandal into a full-blown crisis for the News of the World, Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. Yet the news of Payne's hacking is, in some ways, even more shocking, because it was her daughter's murder by a pedophile in 2000 that led News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks to launch a crusade for a sex offender's law in Britain known as "Sarah's Law." Brooks repeatedly mentioned the campaign in her testimony to Parliament, calling it an example of the good that the News of the World had done.

The Guardian: News International IT contractor questioned over deleted emails

Keith Vaz orders Indian-based firm to reveal knowledge of emails that may reveal scale of phone hacking

-by Patrick Wintour

July 28, 2011- One of News International's main technology contractors has been ordered by the home affairs select committee to answer questions by tomorrow about its knowledge of the deletion of emails seen as vital to discovering the scale of phone hacking at the newspaper company.

The letter has been sent to HCL Technologies, based in India, by Keith Vaz, the chairman of the home affairs select committee, after what was regarded by some committee members as narrow, to the point of partial, answers by the firm to a previous inquiry by the committee.

There have been allegations, denied by the company, that it has knowledge of the destruction of emails vital to the inquiry into phone hacking .

The exchanges about deletion of emails is a test case of whether News International is now encouraging co-operation with the authorities, including the police and parliament, or whether elements are trying to conceal an earlier cover-up that may have occured at the newspaper group.

The Telegraph: Phone hacking: royal law firm Harbottle & Lewis in negotiations with police over News International emails

The royal law firm at the centre of the phone hacking scandal is in negotiations with police about handing over a cache of confidential News International emails.

-By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor

July 27, 2011- Harbottle & Lewis told MPs it was in the process of making a “full and complete disclosure” to the Metropolitan Police about phone hacking.

The firm, which in the past has acted for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, is under fire for failing to tell police or MPs about the scale of the problem.

Harbottle & Lewis, which is understood to be being investigated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority, had previously insisted client confidentiality prevented it from making full disclosure to police.

It emerged at the height of the scandal that Harbottle & Lewis had a four-year-old file of hundreds of allegedly incriminating emails in its offices.

The firm indicated in a short letter to News International that the emails did not show wider evidence of criminality. This document was relied upon by the publisher during parliamentary inquiries in 2009.

Earlier this month, News International gave permission for Harbottle & Lewis to speak to police and MPs about the emails.

The Independent: Murdochs were given secret defence briefings

Ministers held meetings with media mogul's people more than 60 times

-By Oliver Wright, Whitehall Editor

July 27, 2011- The extraordinary access that Cabinet ministers granted Rupert Murdoch and his children was revealed for the first time yesterday, with more than two dozen private meetings between the family and senior members of the Government in the 15 months since David Cameron entered Downing Street.

In total, Cabinet ministers have had private meetings with Murdoch executives more than 60 times and, if social events such as receptions at party conferences are included, the figure is at least 107.

On two occasions, James Murdoch and former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks were given confidential defence briefings on Afghanistan and Britain's strategic defence review by the Defence Secretary, Liam Fox. A further briefing was held with Ms Brooks, Rupert Murdoch and the Sunday Times editor John Witherow.

The Chancellor, George Osborne, has had 16 separate meetings since May 2010 with News International editors and executives, including two with the Murdochs within just a month of taking office. He also invited Elisabeth Murdoch as a guest to his 40th birthday party last month.