Tag Archives: Rupert Murdoch

Select committees: Reaction to appearances by police, the Murdochs and Brooks

The focus on Twitter seemed to be entirely on the appearance of Murdoch and son, Rebekah Brooks and two senior Metropolitan police officers at two parliament select committees yesterday (19 July).

Sir Paul Stephenson and John Yates appeared before the home affairs select committee, before Rupert and James Murdoch – and then Rebekah Brooks – came before the culture, media and sport committee.

Below is a Storify to show some of the reaction on Twitter to MPs’ questions and the responses MPs received.

Murdoch humble, but saved the spectacle of being forced to eat pie…

In case you missed it earlier, here’s the video clip of an attempted foam pie-ing of Rupert Murdoch during today’s culture, media and sport select committee at the House of Commons. The real star is Murdoch’s wife Wendi Deng whose lightning reaction ensured the assailant ended up with most of the foam on his own face.

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John Yates resignation statement

Metropolitan police assistant commissioner John Yates resigned yesterday (18 July), after being told he would be suspended.

Yates becomes the second casualty in the Metropolitan police in the wake of phone-hacking allegations, after Britain’s top cop Sir Paul Stephenson resigned on Sunday.

The former assistant commissioner yesterday spoke to the media, paying tribute to the staff he served with:

It is with great regret that I make this decision after nearly 30 years as a police officer.

I wish to pay tribute to the many fine officers and police staff with whom I have served. I will miss them hugely, but I know that they will continue to do their utmost to protect the public and, of course, this great capital city.

Yates said that police, especially those in the “difficult” jobs, must be accountable:

When we get things wrong, we say so and try and put them right. As I have said very recently, it is a matter of great personal regret that those potentially affected by phone hacking were not dealt with appropriately.

He added that with the upcoming Olympic games, he could not allow the “situation” continue, claiming that a “huge amount of inaccurate, ill-informed, and malicious gossip” had been published about him.

I have acted with complete integrity and my conscience is clear. I look forward to the future Judge-led inquiry where my role will be examined in a proper and calmer environment and where my actions will be judged on the evidence rather than on innuendo and speculation as they are at present.

News International sites targeted by hackers

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.”

Reactions to John Yates’ resignation

As the world of journalism waited with bated breath for Boris Johnson to get his 2pm press conference underway the rumours of a John Yates departure were confirmed.

The assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police resigned after the Metropolitan Police Authority decided to suspend him pending a referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Yates’ resignation comes after questions were raised about his relationship with Neil Wallis, the former executive editor of the News of the World.

Wallis was arrested last week by officers investigating allegations of phone hacking.

London’s mayor was questioned by a number of journalists at the press conference at City Hall, London, and some of his responses are below.

Did you demand Sir Paul Stephenson’s resignation?

In an ideal world Paul Stephenson would still be commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service… The trouble was that he had been caught up in a series of decisions relating to the Met’s handing of the News of the World which were going to be extremely distracting.

What Paul really couldn’t face was the idea of this protracted inquiry… at a time when he wanted to concentrate on policing in London.

Of course I was reluctant … but I accept the force of that argument.

Do you regret praising Rupert Murdoch around the time the Milly Dowler relevations first broke?

Well, clearly what the News of the World did was absolutely loathsome and I condemn it – I’m very glad that this gives everybody the opp to get to the bottom of practices across Fleet Street.

Should David Cameron walk over the hiring of Andy Coulson?

I’m not here to discuss government appointments. Those questions you must address to government. I don’t think there’s a very clear read across” [from Sir Paul Stephenson hiring Neil Wallis to Mr Cameron hiring Andy Coulson]. This is a matter you must address to No 10 Downing Street.

Twitter was in a frenzy before Yates’ resignation was announced. Below is a Storify of the immediate reaction.

Phone hacking: Rebekah Brooks’ lawyer’s statement

Rebekah Brooks’ laywer has apparently released a statement this afternoon claiming she is ‘not guilty of any criminal offence’.

The statement follows Brooks’ arrest yesterday, as part of the Metropolitan Police investigations into phone hacking and corruption.

The position of Rebekah Brooks can be simply stated. She is not guilty of any criminal offence. The position of the Metropolitan Police is less easy to understand. Despite arresting her yesterday and conducting an interview process lasting nine hours, they put no allegations to her, and showed her no documents connecting her with any crime.

They will in due course have to give an account of their actions, and in particular their decision to arrest her, with the enormous reputational damage that this has involved.

In the meantime,  Mrs Brooks has an appointment with the culture, media and sport select committee tomorrow. She remains willing to attend and to answer questions. It is a matter for Parliament to decide what issues to put to her and whether her appointment should place at a later date.

(Hat-tip to Channel 4 News’ home affairs producer Marcus Edward.)

Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper ad apology

News International chairman James Murdoch announced this morning that the company would be placing a full-page apology in all of the national newspapers this weekend following two weeks of damning revelations about phone-hacking and corruption at the News of the World.

The apology is signed by James’ father Rupert, chairman of News Corporation. Here is an image text of the ad, via @TimGatt. Full text below.

 

Text:

We are sorry.

The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account. It failed when it came to itself.

We are sorry for the serious wrongdoing that occurred.

We regret not acting faster to sort things out,

I realise that simply apologising is not enough.

Our business was founded on the idea that free and open press should be a positive force in society. We need to live up to this.

In the coming days, as we take further concrete steps to resolve these issues and make amends for the damage they have caused, you will hear more from us.

Sincerely,

Rupert Murdoch.

Letters in full from News International bosses to select committee

Here are the responses given by Rebekah Brooks, James Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch to chairman of the culture, media and sport committee John Whittingdale, who invited them to give evidence next week on phone hacking.

Brooks has accepted an invitation to appear before the committee on Tuesday.

Rebekah Brooks:

Dear John,

Thank you for your letter of 12 July, on behalf of the committee, inviting me to give evidence to you on 19 July.

I am writing to confirm that I am available to appear before the committee on that date and welcome the opportunity to do so.

As you will be aware, the Metropolitan police investigation into illegal voicemail interception continues and we are fully cooperating with that. Aspects of the work to which your committee may wish to refer are likely to be relevant to that investigation. Indeed, the police have already asked us specifically to provide information about those matters.

I understand that various select committees have approached the police over time in relation to this and other cases. The police’s position has been to co-operate where this did not directly impact on the investigation in question. In those cases where it did potentially impact, the police have historically declined to comment at that stage. Our understanding is that this approach has not been challenged. Given that we are in the midst of an investigation, and we do not want to prejudice it, I hope you will understand why we feel it would not be appropriate to respond to such questions at present in order to be consistent with [the] police’s approach, and that as a result this may prevent me from discussing these matters in detail.

I hope this is of help, and look forward to hearing from you to discuss exact timings and other details.

Yours sincerely,
Rebekah Brooks

Rupert Murdoch:

Dear John,

Thank you for your letter of 12 July, on behalf of the committee, inviting me to give evidence to you on 19 July.

Unfortunately, I am not available to attend the session you have planned next Tuesday. However, I am fully prepared to give evidence to the forthcoming judge-led public inquiry and I will be taking steps to notify those conducting the inquiry of my willingness to do so. Having done this, I would be happy to discuss with you how best to give evidence to your committee.

I hope this is of help.

Yours sincerely,
Rupert Murdoch

James Murdoch:

Dear John

Thank you for your letter of 12 July, on behalf of the committee, inviting me to give evidence to you on 19 July.

Unfortunately I am not available to attend the session you have planned next Tuesday.

However, I would be pleased to give evidence to your committee on either the 10 or 11 August. Naturally, if neither of these proves suitable I would be willing to consider any alternative dates you suggest.

I hope this is of help to the committee.

Yours sincerely,
James Murdoch

Given the responses from Rupert and James Murdoch the committee decided it will issue summons for them to appear on Tuesday. It is currently unclear what steps could and would be taken if they are declined.

Reaction round-up on News of the World closure

The morning after the announcement that News International is to scrap the News of the World has predictably spawned a variety of reaction from the blogosphere.

Despite rumours that folding the newspaper in favour of a seven day Sun had been on the cards for a while (TheSunOnSunday.co.uk, TheSunOnSunday.com and SunOnSunday.co.uk were all registered on July 5, albeit by a private individual), a source at News International confirmed today that a Sunday edition of the paper wouldn’t be on the cards for several weeks to come.

This morning Times today led with a story that the collapse in advertising was due to online protest and the final nail in the coffin for the paper.

The withdrawal of advertising appeared to be in response to a public backlash that had been led primarily on the internet. Thousands of people had used Twitter and Facebook to express their outrage at allegations of phone hacking at the paper.

This was after a list of the News of the World’s advertising clients had been published online, encouraging people to send Twitter messages to the companies to express concern at the activities of the paper’s journalists.

You can read the full article here (behind the paywall).

Emily Bell, director of the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism and former director of digital content for Guardian News & Media sees the decision as part of a long line of bold and audacious moves from the Murdochs, from the bid to buy the Times, to the launch of Sky News, and recently the proposed takeover of BSkyB.

James’s Wapping moment sees him making a gesture he hopes will be grand enough to soften the focus of any phone-hacking inquiry, bold enough to allow the company to extricate itself from present trouble and, in the process, allow him to reshape News International around the digital television platforms he feels both more comfortable with and which are undoubtedly more profitable.

But what about the wider implications? Many are agreed that the decision is brutal and the loss of 200 journalists terrible, but Andrew Gilligan, London editor for the Sunday Telegraph, argues that it could also give way to a muzzled British press in the future. As talk turns to how press regulation should be managed, Gilligan says:

For be in no doubt: hateful as the behaviour of some journalists has been, we may now face something even worse. For many in power, or previously in power, the News of the World’s crimes are a God-given opening to diminish one of the greatest checks on that power: the media.

Regulation was also on Alan Rusbridger‘s mind yesterday, when he took part in a live Q & A regarding phone hacking (before NI announced the News of the World’s closure). Rusbridger drew attention to alleged weaknesses of the PCC (the code committee of which Rusbridger quit in November 2009) and the quandary of state v self-regulation. Today the Press Complaints Commission sought to defend its work following calls for it to be scrapped by both Labour leader Ed Miliband and prime minister David Cameron.

This hasn’t been a wonderful advertisement for self-regulation. The short answer is that, no, the PCC can’t go on as it is. Its credibility is hanging by a thread.

We did say this back in November 2009 when the PCC came out with its laughable report into phone-hacking. We said in an editorial that this was a dangerous day for press regulation – and so it’s turned out.

The PCC has this week withdrawn that report and has a team looking at the issues and at the mistakes it’s made in the past.

I don’t know how Ofcom could do the job without falling into the category of statutory regulation. Does anyone else?

On her blog former Channel 4 presenter Samira Ahmed also draws some comparisons with the past, saying that the affair is “only my second major moral outcry against the news media” during her twenty years in journalism, the first being the death of Princess Diana. Hugh Grant has won public approval over the last week or so because of his overt opposition to phonehacking, but Ahmed is wary of putting people like Grant on a pedestal.

Many celebrities understand the privacy trade-off with press coverage, or get their lawyers to settle a payoff. Incidentally we should be wary of deifying celebrities, such as Hugh Grant, who have publicly defended the principle of rich people taking out superinjunctions to cover up their bad behaviour, when there might be a legitimate public interest. But I’ve met ordinary people over the years whose suffering has been deeply compounded by salacious press intrusion.

Vince Cable on Telegraph recording: “I thought about resigning”

Business secretary Vince Cable had thought about resigning following the exposés by the Daily Telegraph on comments he made while being secretly recorded by undercover journalists, the BBC reported today.

Cable was stripped of the responsibility for making a decision over News Corp’s bid for BSkyB following the comments he made, which included him saying he had “declared war on Mr Murdoch”.

Cable was being recorded by the reporters, who posed as Lib Dem voters in his constituency. The Press Complaints Commission said in January it would be investigating the “use of subterfuge”.

Asked by BBC World At One, broadcast today, reporter Becky Milligan if he had thought at the time that he should resign Cable said he had “certainly thought about it”.

The people who I’m closest to and have the most respect for, including my own family of course, thought that wasn’t the right thing to do.

… That six weeks or so was quite dreadful. You’re under a lot of pressure, political and emotional, you discover you’re friends.

Later asked if David Cameron and Nick Clegg were supportive he said they wanted to keep him in the government, but “were not happy about what had happened”.