January 20, 2022

Rebekah Brooks Denies Hacking Charges

In Southwark Crown Court in London, Ms. Brooks, 45, entered a plea of not guilty to five charges, including conspiracies to hack phones, to commit misconduct in public office and to pervert the course of justice. Five other former employees of News International, the British subsidiary of Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation, as well as Ms. Brooks’s husband, Charlie, also appeared in court and entered pleas of not guilty to various charges.

The arraignment was the latest chapter in an unfolding drama that led to the closing of Mr. Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid in July 2011 after accusations that its reporters had hacked into the voice mail of a kidnapped teenager, Milly Dowler, who was later found murdered.

The scandal mushroomed into bribery investigations involving police officers and public officials. A panel of inquiry set up by Parliament urged that British press regulations be enshrined into law to prevent a recurrence of the scandal.

Ms. Brooks, with her connections to the political elite, including Prime Minister David Cameron, has been closely watched throughout the scandal. A former editor of both The News of the World and The Sun, Ms. Brooks has been accused of conspiracy to hack phones between 2000 and 2006 and conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office between 2004 and 2012. She is also accused of seeking to pervert the course of justice by conspiring with her personal assistant to spirit material away from police investigators in July 2011.

Ms. Brooks, Mr. Brooks and four other former News International employees were accused of seeking to pervert the course of justice. Separately, Clive Goodman, the former royal reporter for The News of the World, was accused of conspiracy to commit misconduct.

All of the defendants have been free on bail pending trial.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/06/world/europe/rebekah-brooks-denies-hacking-charges.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

British Hacking Scandal Widens to Government Secrets

Scotland Yard declined to comment on the report in The Guardian newspaper, saying it would not be “providing a running commentary on this investigation.”

The report said the police had warned Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland secretary from 2005 to 2007, that his computer and those of senior civil servants and intelligence agents responsible for the British province may have been hacked by private detectives working for News International.

News International — whose chairman is James Murdoch, the 38-year-old son of the octogenarian mogul Rupert Murdoch — is a British subsidiary of News Corp., the Murdoch-owned global media empire.

The British outpost has been at the center of a controversy convulsing public life here over the use of private detectives to hack into the voice mail of celebrities and less well-known people thrust into the spotlight of the news by personal tragedy.

But the latest reports suggest that the scandal may be widening if it is established that classified material was also hacked from computers. British news reports on Tuesday said that Mr. Hain’s computer may have contained information about informers within Northern Ireland’s factions. Mr. Hain oversaw delicate negotiations that led to the restoration of local government for the province and the creation of a joint administration grouping its historic adversaries.

The report added weight to previous hints that the intelligence community may have been targeted. A former British Army intelligence officer, Ian Hurst, had previously accused The News of the World, the weekly tabloid that the Murdochs closed as the scandal broke, of hacking into his e-mail account in search of information on confidential informants within the Irish Republican Army.

Mr. Hurst had worked in Northern Ireland, running undercover operations. The BBC reported this year that his computer had been hacked and sensitive e-mails had been provided to The News of the World.

Last month, The New York Times reported that at least one of the scores of lawsuits that allege phone hacking mentions classified information from Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, MI5.

A spokesman for Mr. Hain withheld comment, saying: “These are matters of national security and are subject to a police investigation so it would be inappropriate to comment.” Neither the spokesman nor the police explicitly denied the report.

News International said it was “cooperating fully with the police” on all investigations, The Press Association news agency said.

The hacking scandal has spurred Prime Minister David Cameron to set up a full-blown inquiry into the practices and ethics of the British news media and its relationship with the police and politicians.

In recent days, the inquiry has heard testimony from a procession of celebrities ranging from the actor Hugh Grant to J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, chronicling episodes of intrusion into their private lives by reporters. While the scandal revolved initially around phone hacking, it has since broadened into the realm of interference with computers by people using so-called Trojan Horse viruses for remote access to their target’s computers.

The police inquiry into alleged computer hacking is one of three police investigations affecting the Murdoch media holdings in Britain. Two of them relate to claims of phone hacking and bribery of police officers. In July, Scotland Yard added computer hacking to the list after receiving what the police called “a number of allegations regarding breach of privacy” since January when previous inquiries were reopened.

Ravi Somaiya contributed reporting.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=91d4f304da0471cfebbea1326511b753

Meetings Indicate British Officials’ Links to Murdochs

Pressure on Mr. Osborne mounted Tuesday as details of his extensive meetings with the Murdochs and leaders of the News Corporation’s British subsidiary, News International, were released.

A diary posted on the official Web site of the Exchequer showed that his encounters continued even after a new police inquiry into hacking had begun, and as the government neared a crucial decision on the Murdochs’ $12 billion bid, subsequently abandoned, to take complete control of British Sky Broadcasting, the country’s dominant satellite broadcaster.

The political significance of what appeared to be Mr. Osborne’s husbanding of the government’s ties with the Murdoch empire lay in large part in his role as the chief architect of Prime Minister David Cameron’s contentious program of harsh austerity measures. Those measures have made Mr. Osborne, 40, one of the most divisive figures in British politics. Any hint that he is politically vulnerable in the hacking scandal could affect the government’s declared resolve to hold unwaveringly to its economic policies, which combine steep spending cuts with tax increases.

The release on Tuesday of new data showing that the economy grew only 0.2 percent in the second quarter, well short of the economic acceleration the government had hoped to show, added to the pressure on Mr. Osborne.

The figures prompted new criticism from the Labour Party and economists opposed to the austerity program, with Labour’s chief economic spokesman, Ed Balls, calling Mr. Osborne “breathtakingly complacent,” and demanding immediate measures to stimulate the economy.

But Mr. Osborne stuck to his guns. “We are traveling a difficult road, but it is the only road that leads to a lasting private sector recovery, and to the jobs we all want to see,” he said.

Mr. Osborne has also drawn criticism from within the Conservative Party for his role in hiring Mr. Coulson. According to two party insiders, Mr. Osborne had pushed for Mr. Coulson, partly out of a belief that it would help cement Rupert Murdoch’s support in the national elections.

The posting of Mr. Osborne’s meetings with News Corporation executives followed Mr. Cameron’s disclosure that he had 26 meetings and social engagements with Rupert Murdoch, his son James and their lieutenants since taking office in May 2010. The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, has released his own list, showing 15 meetings or social contacts with News International executives over the same period.

According to the Exchequer’s listing, which did not include interviews with journalists, Mr. Osborne met 10 times with the two Murdochs and their former lieutenant, Rebekah Brooks. These were among 16 meetings or social occasions Mr. Osborne attended at which News International executives were present — representing a third of all meetings he had with senior figures from all of Britain’s media organizations. Mr. Coulson and Ms. Brooks, who resigned this month as chief executive of News International, are among a group of people who worked for News International and The News of the World who have been arrested in connection with the phone hacking case.

Ms. Brooks is among those who have said publicly that it was Mr. Osborne’s idea to appoint Mr. Coulson as the Conservative Party’s chief media adviser in 2007, a post that carried him into Downing Street after the election. Mr. Coulson resigned from his government post in January, citing “distractions” from the phone hacking scandal.

Scrutiny of Mr. Osborne’s encounters with the Murdochs and their top British executives seemed likely to focus on a meeting in April with James Murdoch and Ms. Brooks for what was described in the document as a “general discussion.” That meeting occurred as a reinvigorated police inquiry began to gain pace with the arrest of senior News of the World journalists. Another occasion on the list, with Rupert Murdoch in December, occurred two weeks before the government was to rule on his proposed takeover of the remaining shares of British Sky Broadcasting.

A spokesman for Mr. Osborne, referring to the April meeting, said Mr. Osborne had explained to James Murdoch and Ms. Brooks that he could not discuss the takeover bid, which was being handled, on Mr. Cameron’s orders, by another official.

The spokesman added that “the topic was not raised at any other discussion” with the Murdoch executives. But Tom Watson, a Labour member of Parliament, called the frequency of Mr. Osborne’s meetings “absolutely remarkable,” and he called on the chancellor to disclose what was discussed at those meetings.

Don Van Natta Jr. and Jo Becker contributed reporting.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/27/world/europe/27hacking.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Rebekah Brooks Resigns From Murdoch’s British Subsidiary

Her resignation came a day after Mr. Murdoch, the chairman of News Corporation, and his son James reversed themselves and said they would testify next week before a parliamentary panel probing the cascading scandal over phone hacking that has forced the closure of The News of the World tabloid and the collapse of a $12 billion bid to assume full control of Britain’s biggest satellite broadcaster.

Until the scandal erupted, Ms. Brooks, 43, had been a star within News International, the British newspaper subsidiary of Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation, editing two influential tabloids and rising rapidly to head the division. British analysts described her as enjoying the status of a favored daughter, with close ties not only to the Murdoch family but also to leading politicians.

But her resignation had seemed ever more likely as police arrested some of her former colleagues, politicians on the benches of Parliament demanded her resignation, the price of stock in Murdoch holdings faltered and investors voiced concern. Late Thursday, BBC television broadcast an interview with Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, identified as News Corporation’s second biggest shareholder, in which he said that if Ms. Brooks was involved in wrongdoing “for sure she has to go.”

Ms. Brooks, who has denied that she knew of the phone hacking while she was editor of The News of the World, said in an e-mail to her staff, “My desire to remain on the bridge has made me a focal point of the debate. This is now detracting attention from all our honest endeavors to fix the problems of the past. Therefore I have given Rupert and James Murdoch my resignation. While it has been a subject of discussion, this time my resignation has been accepted.”

She was replaced by Tom Mockridge, the head of Sky Italia, News Corporation’s Italian satellite broadcaster.

Prime Minister David Cameron, once regarded as a personal friend of Ms. Brooks, but who later followed opposition leader Ed Miliband in demanding her resignation, said she had made “the right decision.”

The move came at a sensitive juncture as the Murdoch family shifts to a more assertive posture to try to limit the damage from what has become its most serious crisis of credibility. James Murdoch said on Friday that News International would place advertisements in all British national newspapers at the weekend “to apologize to the nation for what has happened.”

Additionally, Rupert and James Murdoch abandoned efforts on Thursday to avoid scrutiny next week by a parliamentary panel investigating the scandal, saying they would testify before Parliament’s select committee on culture, media and sport, which is the main parliamentary panel investigating the phone hacking. Mr. Cameron has called for a separate inquiry to be headed by a senior judge.

Former staff members at The News of the World questioned why she had not resigned earlier. “Our paper was sacrificed to save her career, and now she’s gone as well,” one former employee said, requesting anonymity because he did not wish to jeopardize his position in severance negotiations following the newspaper’s closure. “Who knows why they’ve chosen to do it now, as she’ll have to appear before the select committee anyway.”

Others faulted News Corporation for what they called a slow and piecemeal response to the crisis. “This is too little too late,” said Michelle Stanistreet, the head of the National Union of Journalists. “This will be cold comfort to the hundreds of journalists who have lost their jobs at The News of the World.”

John F. Burns reported from London and Alan Cowell from Paris. Reporting was contributed by Ravi Somaiya from London.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=e3a6dccab8e830cad56e8cd8dc1be839

Gordon Brown Says Newspaper Hired ‘Known Criminals’

The claims came a day after the crisis deepened with reports that two Murdoch newspapers may have bribed police officers or used other potentially illegal methods to obtain information about Queen Elizabeth II as well as Mr. Brown.

At the same time, two former journalists for The News of the World — the newspaper at the epicenter of the scandal, which the Murdoch family closed last weekend — said that police officers had been bribed to use restricted cellphone-tracking technology to pinpoint the location of people sought by the papers in their pursuit of scoops.

Since flying to Britain over the weekend, Mr. Murdoch has assumed command of damage control efforts at his London headquarters amid a torrent of new revelations, including reports that newsroom malpractice extended far beyond The News of the World to two other newspapers in his British stable — The Sunday Times, an upmarket broadsheet, and The Sun, the country’s highest-selling daily tabloid.

On Tuesday, Mr. Brown accused The Sunday Times — owned by News International, the British subsidiary of Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation — of employing “known criminals” to gather personal information on his bank account, legal files and “other files — documentation, tax and everything else.”

“I think that what happened pretty early on in government is that the Sunday Times appear to have got access to my building society account, they got access to my legal files, there is some question mark about what happened to other files — documentation, tax and everything else,” Mr. Brown, who was Britain’s Labour prime minister from 2007 to 2010 after serving for a decade as chancellor of the Exchequer, told the BBC on Tuesday.

“I’m shocked, I’m genuinely shocked, to find that this happened because of their links with criminals, known criminals, who were undertaking this activity, hired by investigators working with the Sunday Times,” Mr. Brown said.

Mr. Brown added: “I just can’t understand this — if I, with all the protection and all the defenses and all the security that a chancellor of the Exchequer or a prime minister has, am so vulnerable to unscrupulous tactics, unlawful tactics, methods that have been used in the way we have found, what about the ordinary citizen?”

The Guardian newspaper reported earlier that Mr. Brown’s bank, Abbey National, alerted him that someone acting for The Sunday Times had posed in his name — a practice commonly referred to as identity theft, or blagging — to obtain details of his account six times in 2000, when he was chancellor. The BBC said that the effort was made as part of an inquiry by the paper into allegations that Mr. Brown had bought a property in his native Scotland at below-market value, something Mr. Brown has strongly denied.

But the most damaging aspect of the affair involving Mr. Brown related to his son Fraser, now five years old, who suffers from cystic fibrosis. Mr. Brown told the BBC on Tuesday that he had never publicly discussed his son’s medical condition. But a person close to Mr. Brown said on Monday he believed that The Sun gained access to his son’s medical records for an article about his illness that ran in November 2006, four months after the boy’s birth.

Mr. Brown said on Tuesday that he and his wife Sarah were “in tears” when they learned that details of the health issue were going to appear in the newspaper.

The BBC, quoting its sources, said the information about the boy’s condition had been obtained first by The Sunday Times, and passed to The Sun. Mr. Brown said that Rebekah Brooks, then The Sun’s editor and now News International’s chief executive, called him to tell them that the tabloid knew of the boy’s condition, which they had believed was something known only to themselves and medical professionals who were caring for their son.

John F. Burns and Jo Becker reported from London and Alan Cowell from Paris. Ravi Somaiya, Don van Natta and Graham Bowley contributed reporting from London.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=136cec388addb8c408515a7d5da8c546