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Phone hacking: Harbottle & Lewis authorised to respond to MPs and police questions

News Corporation has confirmed that law firm Harbottle & Lewis has been authorised to respond to questions from the Metropolitan police and select committees on the phone-hacking case.

The firm was featured in a number of questions from MPs during the culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday, when News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch, his son James and former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks were asked about a file of emails, said to form part of the Harbottle & Lewis review, and the contents of which were said by Brooks to “put a new light” on information in the case later on.

Giving evidence, James Murdoch, chairman of News International, said the company engaged a law firm to review a number of emails and that it offered its opinion on those.

What I do know is that the company rested on that, rested on the fact that the police told us that there was no new evidence and no reason for a new investigation, and rested on the opinion of the PCC that there was no new information and no reason to carry it further.

It was not until new evidence emerged from the civil litigations that were going on that the company immediately went to the police, restarted this, and the company has done the right thing in that respect.

Yesterday (20 July) the law firm said it was restricted from responding to some of the comments because of client confidentiality, but News Corporation’s management and standards committee (MSC) has since announced that News International has decided to authorise the law firm to answer questions from the Metropolitan police and select committees.

The MSC is authorised to co-operate fully with all relevant investigations and inquiries in the News of the World phone hacking case, police payments and all other related issues across News International, as well as conducting its own inquiries where appropriate

According to a report by the Financial Times the firm is now reviewing what can be said.

While lawmakers questioned why the e-mails Harbottle reviewed were not handed to police, the solicitors’ regulatory code says that a duty to report criminality can be overridden by client confidentiality, except where lawyers suspect that clients may go on to cause violent crime.

The law firm has not responded to a request for comment by Journalism.co.uk.

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News International sites targeted by hackers

July 19th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Newspapers

Lulzsec's faked Sun website featuring the false story about Rupert Murdoch

Hackers last night (July 18) targeted the Sun’s website and put up a false story announcing the death of Rupert Murdoch.

The group behind the attack, Lulzsec, also redirected all traffic to its Twitter feed.

Visitors to the site were greeted by the headline ‘Media moguls (sic) body discovered’ – a story that alleged Murdoch had ‘ingested a large quantity’ of radioactive palladium, before ‘stumbling into his topiary garden’.

On Twitter, LulzSec also claimed to have hacked into email accounts and began posting what appeared to be passwords to individual email addresses as well as mobile numbers for editorial staff.

People trying to access the Sun website were directed to new-times.co.uk, a News International-owned domain.

The group gloated of their success last night, tweeting: “The Sun’s homepage now redirects to the Murdoch death story on the recently-owned New Times website. Can you spell success, gentlemen?”

The hackers did not explicitly say why they hacked the site, but various tweets suggested it was linked to the phone hacking scandal.

It remains to be seen whether this will be the last of the action after the group tweeted: “…expect the lulz to flow in coming days.”

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Peston: BSkyB board to decide on Murdoch stand-down by end of week

According to a blog post by the BBC’s business editor Robert Peston, the board of BSkyB is due to decide whether James Murdoch, chairman of News International, should stand down from his position.

According to a well-placed source, there is a growing view among the company’s non-executives that the burden for James Murdoch of “fighting the fires” at News Corporation – where he is in charge of European operations and is deputy chief operating officer – means that he will find it hard to devote enough time to chairing BSkyB, the largest media and entertainment company in the UK.

According to Peston, it is likely he will be asked to stand down temporarily, until News International “has been stabilised”.

But the Guardian seems to dispute this in its live blog on the phone hacking scandal. Reporter Lisa O’Carroll is quoted as saying that BSkyB had said “it did not expect James Murdoch to be pushed”.

It said it had “no specific comment” to make about claims by the BBC’s Robert Peston that the non-executives felt Murdoch was “fighting the fires” at News Corporation – where he is deputy chief operating officer.

A spokesman said there were no moves afoot on the make-up of the boardroom: “The company has a strong governance framework and there are no changes to the existing plans.”

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Nieman: New data on the Daily suggests social media decline

Joshua Benton at the Nieman Journalism Lab has been analysing the success – or as he believes the decline – of Rupert Murdoch’s iPad only US newspaper, the Daily, by monitoring tweets sent directly from the app.

This post is interesting, not only as an insight into possible problems at the Daily, but for some of the techniques and tools Benton uses for his analysis.

No one outside News Corp. and Apple has a reliable way of knowing how often people read the Daily. But there is one way in which the Daily’s app interacts with the public web — through Twitter sharing. On nearly every page in the app, there’s a sharing button in the top right that allows the reader to share a link to the story on Twitter or other social networks. (A few pages, like the table of contents and user-customized pages, aren’t sharable.)

Benton has used PostRank, a Canadian social media indexing service that analyses how individual web pages are shared through social media.

It’s easy to think of a tweet as just 140 characters, but there’s a lot of metadata around that little snippet of text: when it was tweeted, who tweeted it, how many followers she has, what date she joined Twitter, and more. Amidst all that data is information about where each tweet was generated. Did it come from Twitter’s web interface, or from the official Twitter BlackBerry app, or a third-party app like Echofon or TweetDeck? That’s in there.

And thanks to Twitter’s requirement that app developers register with its API to allow in-app tweeting, that means you can track every time someone tweets from within the Daily.

The data doesn’t look good for the Daily. Its activity on Twitter seems to match my own perceptions of how they’re doing — an early rush of excitement; a decline as people lost interest and the app struggled with technical problems; a plateau once the tech got sorted out; and then another decline once the app started charging users.

Nieman Lab’s full post is at this link.

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Guardian: Telegraph journalists ‘provisionally cleared’ by leak investigation

The Guardian has reported that journalists at the Telegraph have been ‘provisionally cleared’ by an internal investigation reportedly being carried out to look into how taped recordings of Vince Cable “declaring war” on Rupert Murdoch were picked up by the BBC.

Some of the comments made by the business secretary in relation to News Corporation’s bid for BSkyB, which were recorded by undercover reporters from the Telegraph and had not been published by the paper at the time were instead reported by BBC business editor Robert Peston on his blog.

According to the Guardian the inquiry, which it claims was being carried out by private investigation firm Kroll, has “initially concluded that none of the paper’s editorial staff were involved in the leak of the explosive recording”.

The Telegraph Media Group previously told Journalism.co.uk that it does not comment on internal security matters.

The Press Complaints Commission is currently investigating the ‘use of subterfuge’ in the Cable expose, under Clause 10 (Clandestine devices and subterfuge) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

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paidContent: News Corp’s ‘iPad paper’ the Daily to launch on 2 Feb

January 28th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

According to paidContent, News Corporation’s new iPad publication, the Daily, will be launched on 2 Feb, a little later than previously rumoured.

An invitation sent out yesterday by News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch revealed that the Daily will be launched at the Guggenheim museum in New York.

Steve Jobs, now on medical leave, was to appear with Murdoch at the launch. Instead, iTunes guru Eddy Cue will represent Apple. One thing hasn’t changed: as James Murdoch affirmed earlier this week, subscriptions to the News Corp iPad ‘paper’ will run 99 cents weekly.

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News Corp’s BSkyB bid: a timeline

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt announced today that he will delay his decision over whether to refer News Corporation’s BSkyB bid to the competition commission. Hunt said that he is “minded” to refer the bid, but will hear undertakings from the merging parties before making his decision.

See the full Journalism.co.uk report on today’s announcement at this link, and a timeline of events related to the bid below:

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BECTU calls on members to take action over BSkyB takeover bid

Media and entertainment union BECTU is calling on its members to ask their MPs to support the referral of News Corp’s BSkyB bid to the competition commission.

“Action is easy and takes a matter of minutes. Visit 38 Degrees and enter your postcode to email your MP directly. If you have yet to sign the petition please do so now,” says a release from the union.

BECTU assistant general secretary, Luke Crawley adds: “Once the referral is secured, BECTU will continue its support for the campaign against the takeover which threatens to narrow the range of voices and opinion expressed in the UK’s media.”

The union has also called on culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is responsible for making a decision over the bid, to publish Ofcom’s report into the proposals, which was delivered to his department on the 31 December.

Speaking at London School of Economics last week, Hunt refused to comment on process or when a decision would be arrived at. He also declined to reveal when the Ofcom report would be published. His appearance at the university was interrupted by a demonstration over the bid.

Representatives from BECTU attended a meeting about the bid and media ownership at the House of Commons last week. Speaking at the meeting, Lord Razzall said that “all hell will break loose” if Hunt were to ignore a recommendation from Ofcom to refer the bid to the competition commission.

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MediaGuardian: News of the World’s phone-hacking defence unraveling

Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the centre of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, has said that the paper’s assistant editor commissioned him to intercept voicemail messages, MediaGuardian reports.

Mulcaire’s claim leaves the newpaper’s ‘rogue reporter’ defence, which lays the blame for the practice solely at the feet of royal reporter Clive Goodman, in tatters.

Accortding to the MediaGuardian report, Mulcaire submitted a statement to the high court yesterday confirming that Ian Edmondson, the paper’s assistant editor (news), asked him to hack into voicemail messages left on a mobile phone belonging to Sky Andrew, a football agent who is suing the paper for breach of privacy.

Edmondson was suspended by the New of the World last week after what the paper called a “serious allegation” of phone-hacking that emerged during a civil case brought by actress Sienna Miller.

Full story on MediaGuardian at this link.

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The Cutline: Steve Jobs to join Murdoch on stage for unveiling of new iPad publication

January 11th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Jobs, Mobile

According to Yahoo blog the Cutline, Rupert Murdoch will be joined on stage by Apple chief executive Steve Jobs later this month for the launch of News Corp’s new iPad publication, the Daily.

Known as The Daily, Murdoch’s iPad publication has been the talk of the media world over the past couple months, and the News Corp. chief has even dubbed it his “No. 1 most exciting project.” The hush-hush project has been taking shape at the company’s Manhattan headquarters, but it will also have staffers in Los Angeles.

But while news of the editorial hires has steadily leaked out, The Daily’s brass have remained tight-lipped about the launch.

The Cutline’s full report can be found here.

Related Content:

Guardian: Murdoch and Jobs teaming up for iPad newspaper

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