The Independent: Police study James Murdoch's 'secret' iPhone account

-By James Cusick 

June 18, 2012- Scotland Yard detectives investigating phone hacking at the News of the World are examining the call records of four newly discovered Apple iPhones issued to senior executives at News International.

The smartphones, issued by O2 in a contract beginning in October 2009, included a handset given to James Murdoch, the former chairman and chief executive of News Corp Europe. Despite billing for the phones totalling nearly £12,000 between June last year and May this year, neither Operation Weeting nor the Leveson Inquiry was told of the existence of the smartphone accounts.

Phone text messages and emails sent and received by News International executives and advisers have provided some of the most controversial evidence heard by Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into press practices and ethics.

It had been assumed that the email and text traffic from key News International executives was centred solely on their company BlackBerry account with Vodafone.

In accounts seen by The Independent, issued through 02's corporate customer services at Arlington Business Park in Leeds, Mr Murdoch's iPhone account is listed as "active".

Reuters: Murdoch's UK chief told Cameron "we're in this together"

-By Estelle Shirbon and Maria Golovnina

June 14, 2012- Rupert Murdoch's UK newspaper chief told David Cameron the night before a crucial political speech in 2009 that they were "professionally in this together", an inquiry revealed on Thursday, embarrassing the man who now governs Britain.

A text message to Cameron, then in opposition, from Rebekah Brooks, then the head of Murdoch's British newspapers, was read out to the prime minister on live television during a grilling about his ties to the tycoon's News Corp.

"I am so rooting for you tomorrow not just as a personal friend but because professionally we're definitely in this together. Speech of your life? Yes he Cam!" Brooks told Cameron in that message the night before his speech to the Conservative Party's annual conference.

Testifying under oath at the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics, Cameron said Brooks had merely meant that they had a common interest because her Sun newspaper had come out in support of the Conservative Party ahead of the 2010 election.

The Independent: Rupert Murdoch did try to dictate government policy on EU, says Sir John Major

Starkest evidence of political interference as ex-PM recalls threat to withdraw papers' support

-By Martin Hickman 

June 13, 2012- Rupert Murdoch threatened the Conservatives that unless they changed policy on Europe they would lose the support of his newspapers, Sir John Major revealed yesterday, in the starkest evidence so far of the media tycoon's interference in politics.

The former Prime Minister told the Leveson Inquiry that the proprietor of The Sun and The Times made the threat over dinner in February 1997.

"Mr Murdoch said he really didn't like our European policies," he told Lord Justice Leveson. "That was no surprise to me. He wished me to change our European policies. If we couldn't change our European policies his papers could not, would not support our Conservative Government."

"As I recall he used the word 'we' when referring to his newspapers," added Sir John, who was Prime Minister between 1990 and 1997. "He didn't make the usual nod to editorial independence." The comments flatly contradict Mr Murdoch's evidence to the inquiry on 25 April, when the News Corp chief executive said under oath: "I have never asked a Prime Minister for anything."

Reuters: Murdoch private eye targeted U.S. hedge fund boss

-By Mark Hosenball

May 28, 2012- A private detective working for Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers used a legally questionable tactic to obtain a hotel bill that a New York financier ran up at one of London's swankest hotels, records reviewed by Reuters show.

A database of business records compiled by British government investigators shows that some time before his arrest in March 2003, private investigator Steve Whittamore, or someone working for him, misrepresented themselves to obtain from Claridge's Hotel a copy of a bill belonging to Robert Agostinelli, an American who runs the Rhone Group private equity firm.

Whittamore was convicted of trading in illegally obtained information but did not serve jail time. He could not be reached for comment.

Agostinelli did not respond to messages left for him at Rhone Group offices in New York and London.

He is a former senior partner at Goldman Sachs and Lazard and ranks among the richest financiers in the world.

The Whittamore database entry on Agostinelli is one of the few pieces of evidence to surface from extensive UK investigations that Americans were targeted by operatives working for Murdoch's British newspapers, who used questionable investigative techniques.

Reuters: Former editor says Murdoch sowed seeds of hacking scandal

-By Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton

May 17, 2012- Rupert Murdoch sowed the seeds of the phone hacking scandal that has tarnished his reputation by forcing Britain's most respected newspapers into "a Faustian bargain" with the powerful, a former editor of the UK's Times newspaper said on Thursday.

Harry Evans told a British media inquiry how as editor of the Times he battled attempts by Murdoch to compel him to support British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

At the Leveson inquiry last month, Murdoch denied influencing the editorial stance of the Times papers. News Corp could not be immediately reached for comment on Evans' comments.

Evans is now editor at large for Reuters, which is owned by Thomson Reuters. The Thomson family, who owned the Times and the Sunday Times before Murdoch acquired them, controls Thomson Reuters.

Expressing disgust at a fall in journalistic standards that he said Murdoch helped stoke by fostering a culture of trifling scandal, Evans said reporters needed principles to prevent them getting too close to the powerful.


AP: Ex-tabloid boss Brooks faces phone hacking charges

-By David Stringer

May 15, 2012- One of Rupert Murdoch's most trusted lieutenants and five people close to her were charged Tuesday with conspiring to hide evidence of phone hacking, bringing the scandal that has raged across Britain's media and political elite uncomfortably close to Prime Minister David Cameron.

The charges against former U.K. tabloid editor Rebekah Brooks, her husband Charlie and four aides are the first prosecutions since police reopened inquiries 18 months ago into wrongdoing by the country's scandal-hungry press.

Brooks, 43, faces three separate allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice - an offense that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

For years, Brooks was the star in Murdoch's media empire, the top editor of two of his tabloids, a friend of his daughter Elisabeth and a close friend of Cameron, who has known her husband Charlie Brooks since they both went to an elite high school. Cameron is a neighbor, a friend and an occasional horse-riding companion of the couple.

The prospect that courts will hear potentially explosive accusations against Brooks and her husband could rock both Murdoch's global media empire and Cameron's political career.

Reuters: Ex-Murdoch editor charged over UK tabloid scandal

-By Michael Holden and Kate Holton

May 15, 2012- Rebekah Brooks, a close confidante of Rupert Murdoch, was charged on Tuesday with interfering with a police investigation into a phone hacking scandal that has rocked the tycoon's empire and sent shockwaves through the British political establishment.

Brooks, 43, was charged with conspiring to remove boxes of archive records from Murdoch's London headquarters, concealing material from detectives and hiding documents, computers and other electronic equipment from the police. If found guilty she could face a prison sentence.

The charges are the first since police re-launched an investigation into alleged illegal practices at Murdoch's British newspapers following accusations the extent of wrongdoing had been covered up.

The news is a personal blow for the world's most powerful media boss and also embarrassing for British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was close friends with Brooks and sent her text messages of support when the alleged offences took place.

Huffington Post: Rebekah Brooks Charged Over Phone Hacking: Faces Criminal Trial For 'Perverting The Course Of Justice'

-By Jack Mirkinson

May 15, 2012- Rebekah Brooks, the former head of Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper wing and a key figure in the phone hacking crisis, is to face criminal charges over the scandal, it was announced Tuesday.

The Crown Prosecution Service said that Brooks "conspired with her husband, Charles Brooks, and others to pervert the course of justice."

Speaking at a press conference, Alison Levitt, the chief adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions, said that Brooks and five others —her husband, her assistant, their chauffeur, their security and the head of security at News International — had all been charged. (A seventh person was arrested but is not being charged.)

She claimed that, between July 6 and 19th of 2011, Brooks and her assistant had illegally removed seven boxes of material from News International headquarters, and that the group had tried to conceal information from the police about the phone hacking scandal. The charges all stem from actions allegedly taken at the very height of the phone hacking scandal which had suddenly engulfed the entire Murdoch empire.

Huffington Post: Leveson Inquiry: Rebekah Brooks Did Receive 'Texts And Indirect Messages' From Politicians

May 11, 2012- Rebekah Brooks did receive "texts and indirect messages" from politicians after she resigned as News International chief executive over the phone hacking scandal, the Leveson Inquiry heard on Friday.

Speaking at the inquiry into press standards and media ethics, Brooks admitted to receiving "sympathetic" messages from "Number 10, Number 11, the Home Office and the Foreign Office".

The former News International executive said she did receive "indirect messages" from the David Cameron, which were "along the lines" of "keep your head up". She said he also expressed regret that he could not be more loyal in public.

The 43-year-old said she did not receive many messages from Labour politicians. When asked by Robert Jay QC, counsel for the inquiry, if she received a message from Tony Blair, Brooks replied "yes".

Asked if she received a message from Gordon Brown, Brooks said, "no - he was probably putting the bunting out," provoking laughter in the courtroom.

Huffington Post: David Cameron Texted Rebekah Brooks To 'Keep Her Head Up' During Height Of Hacking Crisis, New Book Claims

-By Jack Mirkinson

May 9, 2012- British Prime Minister David Cameron has been drawn back into the phone hacking scandal once more, as a new biography claims that he texted former News International chief Rebekah Brooks during the week that she stepped down from her post over the crisis.

The Times of London -- which is a part of News International, Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper wing -- was the first to report about the charges contained in "Cameron: Practically A Conservative," the newly updated book about the PM. It is yet another embarrassing revelation for Cameron, who has been sharply criticized over his ties to Brooks and to Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor who became his top communications aide.

According to the authors, Cameron had at least two undisclosed meetings with Brooks, who was editor of the News of the World when Milly Dowler's phone was hacked, and who has been questioned by police twice in connection with both phone hacking and an ongoing investigation into the bribery of public officials.