Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rupert Murdoch: no evidence of widespread NoW phone hacking.

Rupert Murdoch, facing questions from shareholders concerning the phone hacking allegations at the News of The World, has stuck firmly to the company line.

Speaking for the first time since the Guardian revealed that News Corp's UK subsidiary had paid more than £1m in out-of-court settlements to three victims of the practice, Murdoch stuck firmly to the company line.

"We have very, very strict rules," he said. "There was one incident more than five years ago ... the person who bought the bugged conversation was immediately fired. If anything was to come to light, and we have challenged those people who have made allegations to provide evidence ... we would take immediate action."

He has also dismissed the recent investigation by The New York Times into the allegations.

"Journalists who have been fired or unhappy or who are now working for other organisations I do not take as authority."

He added: "I don't take the New York Times, who are the most motivated in this, as authority."

The investigation by the British police has been somewhat undermined by the fact that the officer in charge of the inquiry, assistant commissioner Andy Hayman, subsequently left the police to work for News International as a columnist.

And there are reports that the police ignored huge amounts of evidence.

Police who investigated the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World obtained previously undisclosed telephone records which showed a vast number of public figures had had their voicemail accessed – and then decided not to pursue the evidence, according to official papers seen by the Guardian.

The revelation – contained in paperwork from inside the Crown Prosecution Service – raises fundamental questions about the behaviour of Scotland Yard, which has claimed repeatedly that it found evidence of "only a handful" of people whose mobile phone messages had been intercepted by the News of the World's private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire.

The paperwork also reveals that police and prosecutors adopted a deliberate strategy to ringfence the evidence which they presented in court in order to suppress the names of particularly prominent victims, including members of the royal family. The existence of this strategy has been omitted from all public statements, including evidence made to the House of Commons media select committee.

It may well be that The Guardian and The New York Times have got this utterly wrong, but my instinct is to believe them before I believe Rupert Murdoch, especially as Murdoch claims not to have even read The New York Times article in question.

He can hardly be said to have seriously looked into this if he hasn't even bothered to read the allegations which are being made against his newspaper.

But then, how seriously can you take someone who says this?

He also defended the company's decision to donate $2m to the Republican party, insisting it was "in the best interests of the country".

"In the case of these two donations we judged it to be in the best interests of the company," said Murdoch. "It had nothing to do with editorial policy or journalism ... or anything else. We believe it is certainly in the interests of the country, shareholders and prosperity that there is a fair amount of change in Washington."

And do the shareholders have any say about Murdoch donating this amount of their company's funds to the Republicans?

Asked whether shareholders would be consulted he emphatically responded: "No. You have the right to vote us off the board if you don't like it."

And he says this whilst supposedly promoting democracy....

When the truth emerges, my money is not on this guy having gotten it right.

Click here for full article.

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