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Financial Times: James Murdoch’s spokesperson resigned amid phone-hacking scandal

September 27th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, PR

The Financial Times has reported that “one of James Murdoch’s closest advisers” has resigned. Alice Macandrew was Murdoch’s spokesperson but reportedly handed her notice in back in July.

She becomes one of the first senior executives to quit News Corp voluntarily over disagreements with the company’s approach, which saw the publisher contest phone-hacking lawsuits brought by celebrities and other public figures in 2010 and early 2011 and close the News of the World in July.

News Corporation has declined to comment.

Read the full report here (requires registration).

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Metropolitan Police statement on dropped action against Guardian

September 21st, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal, Newspapers

The Metropolitan Police has said it will no longer pursue plans to apply for a court order which would force the Guardian to hand over documents revealing sources of some of its phone hacking coverage.

Here is our story on how the Met has dropped plans to order Guardian source disclosure. Below is the police force’s statement in full, as issued yesterday (Tuesday):

The Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards yesterday consulted the Crown Prosecution Service about the alleged leaking of information by a police officer from Operation Weeting.

The CPS has today asked that more information be provided to its lawyers and for appropriate time to consider the matter. In addition the MPS has taken further legal advice this afternoon and as a result has decided not to pursue, at this time, the application for production orders scheduled for hearing on Friday, 23 September. We have agreed with the CPS that we will work jointly with them in considering the next steps.

This decision does not mean that the investigation has been concluded. This investigation, led by the DPS – not Operation Weeting, has always been about establishing whether a police officer has leaked information, and gathering any evidence that proves or disproves that. Despite recent media reports there was no intention to target journalists or disregard journalists’ obligations to protect their sources.

It is not acceptable for police officers to leak information about any investigation, let alone one as sensitive and high profile as Operation Weeting.

Notwithstanding the decision made this afternoon it should be noted that the application for production orders was made under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), NOT the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

The Official Secrets Act was only mentioned in the application in relation to possible offences in connection with the officer from Operation Weeting, who was arrested on August 18 2011 on suspicion of misconduct in a public office relating to unauthorised disclosure of information. He remains on bail and is suspended.

Separately, the MPS remains committed to the phone hacking investigation under Operation Weeting.

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Milly Dowler phone hacking settlement reaches more than £1m, say reports

September 19th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal, Newspapers

It is being reported this afternoon (19 September) that the family of Milly Dowler has been offered a settlement of more than £1 million by News International in ongoing negotiations.

The Guardian is reporting that it understands News International has made an offer which has been “estimated by sources” at being more than £2 million, which includes a charity donation.

Sky News is reporting that the settlement is “likely to top £1 million”. The BBC has tweeted that News International is “close to agreeing seven-figure financial settlement”.

The company closed the News of the World following allegations that the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler was hacked while she was missing in 2002.

The lawyer Mark Lewis, who is acting for the family, had no comment. News International had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.

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Leveson inquiry: full list of core particpants

September 14th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal, Politics, Press freedom and ethics

Lord Leveson has today announced the list of those that have been granted ‘core participant’ status in the upcoming Leveson inquiry. Core participants can be legally represented, allowing them to have questions asked on their behalf.

Read the full news article on Journalism.co.uk.

Part 1 of the inquiry has been broken down into four modules:

The relationship between the press and the public
The relationship between the press and police
The relationship between the press and politicians
Recommendations for the future

The following organisations have been granted core participant status for Part 1, Modules 1, 2, 3, and 4:

The Metropolitan Police
News International (publisher of the Sun, the Times, the Sunday Times, and the now-defunct News of the World)
Northern & Shell (publisher of the the Daily Express, the Sunday Express, the Daily Star and the Daily Star Sunday)
Guardian News & Media (publisher of the Guardian and the Observer)
Associated Newspapers (publisher of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday)

The following individuals who believe they may have been victims of phone hacking have been granted core participant status for Part 1, Module 1 of the inquiry. All 46 will have to be represented by a single legal representative:

1    Chris Bryant MP
2    Tessa Jowell MP
3    Denis MacShane MP
4    The Rt Hon Lord Prescott of Kingston upon Hull
5    Joan Smith
6    Christopher Shipman
7    Tom Rowland
8    Mark Lewis
9    Mark Thomson
10    Gerry McCann
11    Kate McCann
12    Christopher Jefferies
13    Max Moseley
14    Brian Paddick
15    Paul Gascoigne
16    David Mills
17    Sienna Miller
18    Hugh Grant
19    Ben Jackson
20    Ciara Parkes
21    Simon Hughes MP
22    Max Clifford
23    Sky Andrew
24    Ulrika Jonsson
25    Mark Oaten
26    Michele Milburn
27    Abi Titmuss
28    Calum Best
29    Claire Ward
30    Mary-Ellen Field
31    Gary Flitcroft
32    Ian Hurst
33    Shobna Gulati
34    Mike Hollingsworth
35    Kieron Fallon
36    Ashvini Sharma
37    Tim Blackstone
38    Valatina Semenenko
39    Sally Dowler
40    Bob Dowler
41    Gemma Dowler
42    Sheryl Gascoigne
43    Graham Shear
44    JK Rowling
45    James Watson
46    Margaret Watson

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Independent: News International ‘on course to pay any damages against Glenn Mulcaire’

September 13th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal, Newspapers

The Independent reports today that News International could still be obliged to pay any damages awarded against private investigator Glenn Mulcaire to alleged victims in civil phone hacking cases.

According to the Independent it has obtained a previously protected High Court document which shows that News International “has not cut its financial ties” with Mulcaire, despite an announcement by the media company that it would stop paying his legal fees.

Mulcaire lodged a lawsuit against News International last month over the company’s decision to stop paying his fees in a number of ongoing cases in which he is a defendant.

The claim document, lodged in the Chancery Division of the High Court, details the close-knit legal relationship that existed between Mr Mulcaire’s legal team and the Murdoch UK media company.

… But it goes on to state that the letter “did not to purport to withdraw the indemnity in respect of damages” – meaning that a previously unacknowledged undertaking by News International to pay any cash settlements against Mr Mulcaire remains in place.

But News International has responded to say there was “no agreement whatsoever”.

News International announced in July that it would stop paying Mulcaire’s fees, after News International chairman James Murdoch told the culture, media and sport select committee he had been “surprised and shocked” to find out “certain legal fees were paid for”.

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MediaGuardian: Les Hinton stands by past phone hacking evidence

September 9th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism, Legal

The Guardian reports today that Les Hinton, former executive chairman of News International, has written a letter to MPs to say he stands by evidence given to the culture, media and sport select committee in 2007 and 2009.

According to the Guardian Hinton also “dismissed allegations Goodman was offered his job back” after being convicted of conspiracy to intercept telephone calls.

“I answered all questions truthfully and to the best of my knowledge,” said Hinton. It is his remarks about Goodman’s claims that are most significant and indicate the legal line News International is likely to take in relation to the former royal editor’s sensational claims.

Read more here… The committee had not published the letter at the time of writing.

Hinton resigned from News Corporation in July, at which point he was chief executive officer of Dow Jones and publisher of the Wall Street Journal.

In a statement Hinton said he had watched the events at the News of the World unfold “with sorrow” from New York.

That I was ignorant of what apparently happened is irrelevant and in the circumstances I feel it is proper for me to resign from News Corporation and apologise to those hurt by the actions of News of the World.

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Telegraph: James and Rupert Murdoch to be questioned under oath

August 30th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal

The Telegraph reported yesterday that both James and Rupert Murdoch are to be questioned under oath in the High Court as part of the Lord Leveson inquiry into phone hacking.

According to the paper’s report Lord Leveson is also “keen” for the inquiry to be broadcast live. A Cabinet Office spokesman declined to comment on whether the Murdochs will be questioned, but told Journalism.co.uk live coverage of the inquiry is being looked into.  The closing date for submissions to the inquiry is tomorrow, with reportedly “dozens of letters” already having been sent to potential witnesses to ask for their input.

The Murdochs, as well as Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, both former editors of the News of the World, are likely to be called.

David Cameron and other senior politicians are also likely to be questioned over their links to News International, the parent company of the News of the World.

Today Reuters also reported that lawyers for News International are carrying out “a broad inquiry into reporting practices at all of the company’s UK newspapers”.

Citing sources who have been briefed about the inquiry Reuters reports that lawyers for law firm Linklaters will be “looking for anything that US government investigators might be able to construe as evidence the company violated American law”.

In addition to conducting personal interviews with selected journalists, lawyers will also be looking at email and financial records, said this source.

A News International spokesman confirmed that a review of journalistic standards is underway at News International, which Linklaters is assisting with.

“This is part of a process that started a number of weeks ago and is under the ultimate control of the News Corp board through the independent director Viet Dinh, Joel Klein and the Management and Standards Committee”.

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‘I knew they’d never get the lid back on': Tom Watson talks to the Guardian about phone hacking

August 3rd, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick

Labour MP Tom Watson has spoken to the Guardian’s John Harris about his part in bringing the phone-hacking scandal to light, and the mountains of paperwork and lack of sleep that followed the news that Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked.

Despite the sleep deprivation, Watson said, there has was “a great sense of relief” as revelations tumbled out over the past month.

At some points over the last two years, I thought it might blow. But I’ve also thought that the lid could be welded back on. But when Nick Davies broke the Milly Dowler story, that was the point where I knew they’d never get the lid back on.

The full article is at this link.

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Daily Mirror publisher faces ‘three to four’ phone-hacking cases, says lawyer

Announcing the launch of an internal review of editorial controls and practices last week, Trinity Mirror, publisher of the Daily Mirror, was keen to stress that the review was not connected to recent phone-hacking allegations levelled against its tabloid.

The publisher issued a statement in response to the claims that the Mirror was implicated in the use of the so-called dark arts, calling them “totally unsubstantiated”.

But allegations concerning the paper have since mounted. Lawyer Mark Lewis, who has represented a number of celebrities in phone-hacking suits against News International, said in yesterday’s Sunday Times that the Mirror is facing “about three or four cases which will start within the next few weeks”.

Another report, in the Independent on Sunday, claims that “top investors” in Trinity Mirror, undoubtedly concerned by the steep share-price drop the company saw last week, “want to know more” and have quizzed chief executive Sly Bailey.

Former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, who was fired by Bailey in 2004, has come under scrutiny as the spotlight shifts from News International to Trinity Mirror, although he denies any knowledge of criminality at the Mirror during his time there. Conservative MP Louise Mensch was forced to apologise to Morgan in parliament last week, after incorrectly stating he had admitted being aware of phone hacking at the tabloid.

Citing evidence collected by the Information Commissioner’s Operation Motorman report, blogger Guido Fawkes has alleged that Morgan signed off on £442,000-worth of invoices submitted to the paper by a private detective. It is important to note, however, that the use of a private detective does not necessarily involve any criminality.

According to a report in yesterday’s (31 July) Sunday Telegraph, Trinity Mirror is planning to increase its cost-cutting target for the year from £15 million to £25 million, triggering further job losses.

The company is due to publish its annual financial results on 11 August.

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Greenslade: Phone hacking book deals already signed

The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade reports today that book deals relating to the phone-hacking scandal have already been signed.

This includes one for Guardian journalist Nick Davies, of which is said to be “provisionally” titled Hack Attack.

It’s scheduled for release in autumn next year. So it looks as though Labour MP Tom Watson will get in first because his tome, for Penguin Press, is due to be published before the end of this year. It is being co-written with Martin Hickman of the Independent, a former journalist of the year.

Greenslade adds that “there is not the least sense of competition or animosity between Davies and Watson”, with the story big enough for the two of them, if not more.

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