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News Corp. Telephone Hacking Scandal Explodes Over Weekend. Head of Scotland Yard Resigns; Former Chief Executive of News Corp.’s U.K. Newspaper Operations–Who Just Resigned From the Company on Friday–Is Arrested

Jul 18, 2011  •  Post A Comment

The News Corp. telephone hacking scandal grew even bigger over the weekend, as the head of Scotland Yard resigned and a top executive of News Corp.–who had just resigned from the company on Friday–was arrested by British authorities.

The New York Times wrote another in-depth piece about the scandal on Saturday, July 16, 2010, entitled, "Stain From Tabloids Rubs Off on a Cozy Scotland Yard," in which the Times wrote that it had "learned that the former editor [of News Corp’s now defunct tabloid ‘News of the World], Neil Wallis, was reporting back to [News Corp.’s U.K. subsidiary] News International while he was working for the police on the hacking case. Executives and others at the company also enjoyed close social ties to Scotland Yard’s top officials. Since the hacking scandal began in 2006… records show [that] Sir Paul Stephenson, the [Metropolitan] police commissioner, met for meals 18 times with [News International] executives and editors during the investigation, including on eight occasions with Mr. Wallis while he was still working at The News of the World."

Stephenson, who headed up Scotland Yard, resigned Sunday Night, July 17, 2011. In his resignation statement, Stephenson wrote, ""I have taken this decision as a consequence of the ongoing speculation and accusations relating to the Met’s links with News International at a senior level and in particular in relation to Mr. Neil Wallis who as you know was arrested in connection with Operation Weeting last week."

The now former Scotland Yard chief’s statement also said, ""I have heard suggestions that we must have suspected the alleged involvement of Mr. Wallis in phone hacking. Let me say unequivocally that I did not and had no reason to have done so. I do not occupy a position in the world of journalism; I had no knowledge of the extent of this disgraceful practice and the repugnant nature of the selection of victims that is now emerging; nor of its apparent reach into senior levels.

"I saw senior figures from News International providing evidence that the misbehaviour was confined to a rogue few and not known about at the top.

"One can only wonder about the motives of those within the newspaper industry or beyond, who now claim that they did know but kept quiet."

Toward the end of his lengthy statement he added, "If I stayed I know that the Inquiry outcomes would reaffirm my personal integrity. But time is short before we face the enormous challenge of policing the Olympics — this is not the time for ongoing speculation about the security of the position of the Commissioner. Even a small chance that that there could be a change of leadership must be avoided. Therefore, although I have received continued personal support from both the Home Secretary and the Mayor, I have with great sadness informed both of my intention to resign."

To read Sir Stephenson’s entire resignation statement, please click here.

One of News Corp’s most aggressive competitor’s in England that has written a lot about the scandal has been The Guardian. That paper ran a story titled "Rebekah Brooks and the Murdochs: questions that need answering: MPs on the select committee quiz the three on Tuesday – here are some suggested lines of questioning This story brings up some perceptive questions about the scandal.

Another piece worth reading is a commentary that appeared last Wednesday in the Financial Times. It’s about Rupert Murdoch by Conrad Black. Black, a Canadian,  was once a competitor of Murdoch’s who suffered his own scandal in 2007, when he was convicted on four counts of fraud and obstruction of justice.

In one fascinating paragraph Black writes, "It is unlikely that Mr Murdoch, his son James, or Les Hinton committed crimes (Mr Hinton is a very decent man). Discerning people should not be impressed by the process familiar to me and other victims of it, of hostile media solemnly citing law professors and retired prosecutors and sources who spoke on condition of anonymity (usually tendentious fantasies of the journalists themselves), to comment on the Murdochs’ legal problems. No one should begrudge The Guardian, the BBC, CNN, The New York Times and others their fun at his expense, nor take it too seriously. He is, as Clarendon said of Cromwell and the British historian David Chandler updated to Napoleon “a great bad man”. It is as wrong to dispute his greatness as his badness."

[Black’s piece was written before Hinton, who ran New Corp’s U.K. operation when the phone hacking and other incidents occurred in 2006, resigned from News Corp. on Friday.]

Finally, it’s worth taking a look at this bizarre few minutes from the "Fox and Friends" TV show last Friday, July 15, 2011. Somehow, the show’s co-host, Steve Doocy, and his guest start confusing those who are VICTIMS of phone hacking with those at News of the World, who were the PERPETRATORS of phone hacking…

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