Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Key UK Murdoch executives charged over phone hacking conspiracy

We still have waaay too many friends in high places
The News of the World phone hacking scandal continues to rock News Corporation and undeniably, its CEO and founder Rupert Murdoch. Two key Murdoch executives along with six others were charged today with conspiracy to hack phones.

Last summer, the Guardian revealed that reporters working for the popular British tabloid the News of the World had paid private a detective to hack into the voicemail of Milly Dowler, a 13 year-old girl who had been abducted and murdered. A public demand to discover the extent of the news organizations phone hacking activities soon followed, and the 168 year-old publication folded under the pressure of the escalating scandal. Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson (pictured) resigned from their positions, she the head editor of the News of the World and he the Communications Director for Prime Minister David Cameron.

Brooks, Coulson, five other former employees and private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, face up to two years in prison if convicted. The pair are noted for their deep political connections with high ranking members of the the UK government, including sitting Prime Minister, David Cameron. Brooks was also a confidant of Murdoch and friends with a succession of Prime Ministers.
The Guardian:

Coulson left the editorship of the News of the World in January 2007 after a journalist and private investigator were convicted of phone hacking. A few months later he was appointed as director of communications for the Conservative party, and followed David Cameron into Downing Street after the 2010 election. The prime minister repeatedly said that Coulson deserved a "second chance", as one of the prime minister's most senior advisers, before Coulson was forced to quit his No 10 role on the grounds that the controversy over phone hacking was distracting him from his job.
Coulson gave a short statement outside his south London home, saying he would "fight these allegations", and added that he never had done anything to harm the Milly Dowler investigation.
He said: "I am extremely disappointed by the CPS decision today. I will fight these allegations when they eventually get to court. Anyone who knows me, or who worked with me, would know that I wouldn't, and more importantly that I didn't, do anything to damage the Milly Dowler investigation. At the News of the World we worked on behalf of the victims of crime, particularly violent crime, and the idea that I would sit in my office dreaming up schemes to undermine investigations is simply untrue."
Brooks, who became chief executive of News International before resigning from the company last year, faces three counts of conspiring to intercept communications. In addition to the general conspiracy charge, she will face charges relating to the targeting of Andy Gilchrist, the former general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, and Dowler. Allegations about the hacking of the murdered schoolgirl's phone led Murdoch to decide to shut down the News of the World in 2011.
There was no public appearance by Brooks, but through her lawyers Kingsley Napley she issued a statement denying the charges. "I did not authorise, nor was I aware of, phone hacking under my editorship," she said. "The charge concerning Milly Dowler is particularly upsetting, not only as it is untrue but also because I have spent my journalistic career campaigning for victims of crime. I will vigorously defend these allegations."
The others to be charged in relation to phone hacking are Stuart Kuttner, former managing editor of the News of the World, Ian Edmondson, former assistant editor (news), Greg Miskiw, a former news editor, Neville Thurlbeck, former chief reporter, James Weatherup, former assistant news editor, and a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire.

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