Rupert Murdoch Unplugged: Secret tape recordings reveal true nature of The Beast
10:49 am

The news that Rupert Murdoch had been indiscreet on a secret tape recording made me imagine what dreadful thing it could be?

Had the media mogul revealed himself to be the Great Beast? Had he dished-up salty tales of hideous orgies at Bohemian Grove?

Alas, neither of these imaginary things—more the pity.

It turned out Murdoch had been caught letting slip his real views on the ‘phoning hacking scandal that eventually led to the demise of his (in)famous organ the News of the World.

Why Channel 4 News, who broadcast the story as an “exclusive,” and investigative news site Exaro, who did likewise and have it hidden behind a pay-wall, should think they had some kind of major scoop, when the always reliable Private Eye published the very same story three weeks ago?

Who knows?

What I can tell you is that the 82-year-old Murdoch was secretly recorded (obviously by more than one person) at a meeting he attended with arrested Sun journalists, at the paper’s HQ in the East End of London, on March 6th, this year.

For most of the meeting Murdoch railed against the treatment of his journalists by police during the Hackgate scandal. This was to be expected, as any boss would have found dawn raids on their staff by the boys-in-blue as more than just a wee bit over the top.

“I mean, it’s a disgrace. Here we are, two years later, and the cops are totally incompetent…

“The idea that the cops then started coming in, kick you out of bed, and your families at six in the morning, is unbelievable. But why are the police behaving in this way? It’s the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing…

“And now they’re arresting their own, who never even took money.”

Murdoch went to rave about what had been done to his flame-thrower-haired editor, Rebekah Wade. (One can almost hear the lump in his throat…)

“..what they’re doing, what they did to you, and how they treated people at [******], saying ‘a couple of you come in for a cup of tea at four in the afternoon.’ You guys got thrown out of bed by gangs of cops at six in the morning, and I’m just as annoyed as you are…

“The people who came in and turned over…Rebekah on Monday morning…there were about fifteen or sixteen. Most of them, a dozen, were from Manchester, a murder squad of something.  And there were three local cops. It’s ridiculous.”

Murdoch went on to offer “total support” (Up to a point, Lord Copper) for his journalists, ensuring health care..and er…well, that they should “trust” him. Surprisingly no-one laughed.

There was also the usual raving about the Establishment, which Murdoch has been wittering-on about since he set up his business on British shores back in the Swinging Sixties.

“And we’re being picked on. I think that it was the old right-wing establishment, [Lord] Puttnam, or worse, the left-wing get-even crowd of Gordon Brown. There was a sort of—we got caught with dirty hands, I guess, with the News of the World, and everybody piled in. It was a get-even time for things that were done with The Sun over the last forty-years…

However, all of this is small potatoes compared to the meat-and-two-veg of the recording, when Murdoch admits to being aware of payments-for-information.

“We’re talking about payments for news tips from cops: that’s been going on a hundred years, absolutely. You didn’t instigate it.

“I would have thought 100% … at least 90% of payments were made at the instigation of cops saying, ‘I’ve got a good story here. It’s worth 500 quid’ or something. And you would say, ‘No, it’s not’ … And they’d say, ‘Well, we’ll ring the Mirror…’ It was the culture of Fleet Street.”

This runs contrary to Murdoch’s bumbling performance as a contrite Mr. Magoo at last year’s Levenson Inquiry, where he laid the blame on a couple of rogue journalists.

This tape probably gives a pretty good view of what Rupert Murdoch is really like. (Not that we hadn’t already imagined something quite similar!)

These tape(s) should now be passed onto the Police, who must investigate Murdoch’s comments fully.

Posted by Paul Gallagher
10:49 am
Salem Witch Trial: Best ‘Private Eye’ cover on Hackgate

British satirical magazine Private Eye has published one of its best covers in a wee while, commenting on the charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice against former News of the World editor, Rebekah Brooks, her husband and 4 others, over allegations that she tried to conceal evidence from detectives investigating ‘phone hacking and alleged bribes to public officials.

The Eye‘s headline makes reference to Brooks claim she is the victim of “a witch hunt”, which is bloody ironic coming from her. Expect more wailing and gnashing of teeth soon.

Follow Private Eye on twitter.

Posted by Paul Gallagher
06:15 pm
Rupert Murdoch: ‘Is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of major international company’

We’ve known it for years, but now it’s official - “Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of major international company”. This is the damning summation of a UK Government Select Committee report into the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. 

The Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee also accused Rupert Murdoch of “wilful blindness” towards the wrongdoing in his organization, and that there had been “huge failings of corporate governance”, whose sole aim was “to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing and discipline the perpetrators”.

The report accused 3 former senior executives from News International - Les Hinton, Colin Myler, and Tom Crone - of misleading the committee during its inquiries into Hackgate.

James Murdoch’s competence was called into question, and he was said to have had a “wilful ignorance” about events at News International and the News of the World.

But the most damning indictment was made against Rupert “Digger” Murdoch, the report concluded:

“On the basis of the facts and evidence before the committee, we conclude that, if at all relevant times Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone hacking, he turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications.

“This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organisation and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International.

“We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.”

Read more on the story at the Guardian and at the Daily Telegraph

Read the full 125 page Select Committee Report into the Phone Hacking Scandal here.


Posted by Paul Gallagher
09:12 am
The Heavyweights are slowly turning on Rupert Murdoch

It’s been a hell of a week for the Murdochs.

On Sunday,  Rupert “Digger” Murdoch released his Sun on Sunday, the tawdry replacement paper for the equally tawdry and now defunct News of the World.

On Tuesday, singer Charlotte Church had a David versus Goliath moment when she took on Murdoch’s “massive corporation with endless resources, [and] a phenomenal amount of power” and won £600,000 in damages, for information illegally obtained by Murdoch’s paper on the singer and her family. As Church told the Independent newspaper that News International were not sorry:

“In my opinion, they are not truly sorry, only sorry they got caught.”

Not a truer word said, for the News of the Screws would have carried on their underhand, illicit and corrupt methods if the Guardian had not been assiduous in their investigation of the whole Phone Hacking Scandal. Indeed, Charlotte Church said she only agreed on the settlement with the News International because they planned “to go after my mother again”.

On Wednesday, James Murdoch announced his resignation from News International - this is damage limitation, possibly as a precaution against future criminal proceedings and against the further tarnishing to the family business. But wait - can Murdoch’s brand be even more tarnished and disreputable? An organization currently under investigation for corruption, bribery and extensive illegal activities?

And all the while the Levenson Enquiry continues.

Of course, there will always be those dumb apologists who make the pitch that without Murdoch we wouldn’t have had this or that or the other. Well, this that or the other, just isn’t so, for if one was to take all the good Murdoch’s papers have allegedly achieved, and weigh it up against the bad it has actually perpetrated across the UK and the world, then the Murdochs would be found sadly wanting.

Murdoch’s suitability to be running a business, let alone a newspaper, is the question posed by respected journalist and broadcaster Peter Oborne, in the Daily Telegraph, where he asks:

Is Rupert Murdoch a fit and proper person to run a company?

It may seem an obvious question, but it’s not the sort one expects to find in the conservative Telegraph, where Oborne writes:

Until now, it is only the lesser people who have carried the can for the culture of criminality that flourished inside News International, with the buck stopping with editors such as Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks. The time has come to look higher up – and I am not thinking of hapless James Murdoch, who belatedly resigned as the chairman of News International yesterday afternoon.

Rupert Murdoch, the company’s founder, insists that he never had any knowledge of wrongdoing, and no doubt that is true. But he was the man at the top. He took a very keen interest in the way his British newspapers were run (a newspaperman to his fingertips, last weekend he could be seen hard at work in the newsroom as the Sun on Sunday was launched) and it was he, and nobody else, who set the culture.

We learn more about this culture practically every day. It was a culture of bullying and intimidation, where facts were distorted and lies told. It was a culture which merged the boundaries between police, media and the political class. Though brilliant in many ways, it also did a great deal to debase and even to destroy our public life. Now Rupert Murdoch, an American citizen of Australian heritage, is promoting the break-up of Britain through an alliance with Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party (they met yesterday).

Murdoch’s culture, we now know for a fact, included the criminal culture at the News of the World. We have also heard the corruption allegations from Sue Akers concerning the Sun. Of course nothing has been proved, but if even half of what she says turns out to be true, then it is time to ask whether Rupert Murdoch is a fit and proper person to run not just a newspaper, but any British public company.

Undoubtedly, Murdoch is a wily businessman, but the core values his business seed and promote are the lowest, most insidious and craven, which clearly reveal Murdoch’s true ambition - his thirst for power.

Read Peter Oborne’s article here.

Details of Don’t Buy The Sun here.

Via the Daily Telegraph

Posted by Paul Gallagher
07:25 pm
Hackgate: News International pays out to 37 victims

The announcement that Rupert Murdoch’s News International has agreed to pay-out to 37 victims of the News of the World phone hacking scandal (Hackgate) should come as no surprise. It only confirms what has been suspected all along - that Murdoch’s papers were up to no good.

The 37 who will receive payments include: the actor, Jude Law who will receive $201,000 (£130,000); Labour politician Lord Prescott $62,000 (£40,000): and former actress and designer Sadie Frost $77,000 (£50,000). The full total of settlements are likely to land the publisher with a bill around $2m. Small potatoes to Murdoch, yes, but the inference is damning.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Today’s allegation that senior management at News Group Newspapers (NGN), the subsidiary of News International that published the News of the World, took part in an orchestrated cover-up by “deliberately deceiving investigators and destroying evidence” is certain to bring criminal prosecutions against journalists and management. Moreover, the fact that NI lawyers did not contest this claim tells us everything.

Full details of pay-outs can be found here.


Posted by Paul Gallagher
03:23 pm
James Murdoch resigns from boards of The Sun and The Times

James Murdoch has quit as director of The Sun and the London Times newspapers, the Evening Standard reports:

Companies House filings show James Murdoch has stepped down from the boards of both News Group Newspapers Limited, publisher of The Sun, and Times Newspapers Limited, which operates The Times and Sunday Times.

NGN used to operate the News of the World and remains embroiled in legal action over phone-hacking.

The departures come as James Murdoch also faces calls to quit as chairman of BSkyB at next week’s annual general meeting. His decision means no member of the Murdoch family now sits on the boards of the flagship UK papers.Rupert Murdoch used to be a director of NGN and TNL but stepped down after his son took over as NI executive chairman in 2007. James Murdoch has also quit at least one other subsidiary, News International Holdings.

Murdoch’s decision to quit is possibly one of damage limitation over the recent News of the World ‘phone hacking scandal.

The Evening Standard quotes Claire Enders, founder of Enders Analysis, who said:

“Because it is inescapable that there will be some kind of censure from the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, it is inevitable that people will say maybe you’ve got too much on your plate, it makes sense to step back from some of the roles.” But Enders said Murdoch still faces intense pressure as the police investigate hacking at the News of the World.

“He can step down from all these positions but he won’t stop any of the other issues surrounding his stewardship,” she said.

Though Enders dismissed talk News Corp would sell the UK papers, Murdoch’s surprise resignation does suggest a shift in relationship between the parent company and the newspapers.

Read the full story here, and here.

Below, video of Murdoch questioned a fortnight ago by Tom Watson MP, who described Murdoch as a “Mafia boss”.

Via the Evening Standard

Posted by Paul Gallagher
10:20 am
Hackgate: Sky News tweets James Murdoch arrested then deletes it

Tonight’s breaking news that James Murdoch had been arrested over the News of the World ‘phone hacking scandal, has proved too good to be true. Sky News tweeted Mr. Murdoch had been arrested at 22:00 hours GMT and taken to London’s Paddington Green Police Station for questioning. Shortly afterwards, the tweet was deleted.

The question is: Was Sky News hacked? Or, was it a case of wishful thinking from a journalist?

Business Insider reports:

According to Sky News’ Neal Mann, it’s most likely the account was hacked.

Sky News reporter Mark White tweets:

Don’t get too excited over James Murdoch arrest tweet. Don’t think it’s true. Trying to get to the bottom of it.

If it had been true, then how ironic it would have been that Sky News reported it first. Ah, well, one can live in hope.

Read more here.

Via Business Insider

Posted by Paul Gallagher
06:57 pm
Another layer of the rotting onion that is the British ruling class

George Osborne, Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer (and David Cameron’s college chum and next door neighbor) is pretty much fucked, I think, no matter how you slice it. On Australian television today, Natalie Rowe—a former dominatrix who ran the Black Beauties escort agency, a $500 an hour prostitution ring in the 1990s—dumped a bucket of shit all over Osbourne’s head, reminding viewers of her role in what Osbourne himself called an “absurd smear campaign” against him in 2005.

Ms. Rowe, speaking on ABC Australia:

“I mean it’s been said in the newspapers that he was at university. He wasn’t. At the time he was working for William Hague. I remember that vividly because he called William Hague insipid and I didn’t know what the word meant. I do now. So he definitely was in government by then but I think he was getting more and more of a high profile. So there was definitely, there was cocaine on that night on the table. George Osborne did take cocaine on that night. And not just on that night. He took it on a regular basis with me, with his friends. There were more witnesses, not just me, that witnessed George Osborne taking cocaine. So it’s you know, there are other people out there that know the truth. On that particular night he had taken a line. And I said to George jokingly that when you’re prime minister one day I’ll have all the dirty goods on you. And he laughed and took a big fat line of cocaine.”

But it doesn’t end there, oh no, the sordid mess is even messier, and is now deeply connected to the News of the World hacking scandal.

Mark Lewis, the attorney representing Rowe had this to add, speaking to Australian journalist Emma Alberici:

MARK LEWIS: The editor at the time was Andy Coulson. And I think that’s worth remembering because of the future relationship that we have between the Conservative Party, the prime minister and Andy Coulson… That editorial could have gone completely the other way. It could have said, for example, whilst we do not believe that George Osborne took drugs he showed a serious error of judgement being at the party or being at the flat where drugs were taken, where there was an allegation of prostitution. He showed that error of judgement and therefore he’s not right to be in the heart of politics. Now the decision on which spin to give to the story by the editor of the News of the World particularly was something that determined his future in politics.

EMMA ALBERICI: You think so?

MARK LEWIS: Undoubtedly so because the editorial could have been written the other way. And if it would have been written the other way it would have finished his career I’m sure.

Rowe decided to sell her story to The Sunday Mirror in 2005 after watching Cameron and Osbourne refuse to say whether or not they’d ever taken drugs in a session of the House of Commons. Later that day, she was shocked to see the story on the front page of The News of the World. Police have allegedly told Rowe that reporters working for Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World newspaper had hacked into her phone.

News of the World called Rowe a coke-snorting hooker and used an unnamed source to discredit her story.

MARK LEWIS: The editor at the time was Andy Coulson. And I think that’s worth remembering because of the future relationship that we have between the Conservative Party, the prime minister and Andy Coulson.

EMMA ALBERICI: Andy Coulson also wrote an editorial, or had it written for him, dismissing Natalie Rowe’s story.

MARK LEWIS: That editorial could have gone completely the other way. It could have said, for example, whilst we do not believe that George Osborne took drugs he showed a serious error of judgement being at the party or being at the flat where drugs were taken, where there was an allegation of prostitution. He showed that error of judgement and therefore he’s not right to be in the heart of politics.

EMMA ALBERICI: You think so?

MARK LEWIS: Undoubtedly so because the editorial could have been written the other way. And if it would have been written the other way it would have finished his career I’m sure.

Tory sleaze is back with a vengeance! But Chunky Mark, the angry cab driver is having none of it…

Via Ian Bone’s blog/Thank you Chris Campion of Berlin, Germany!

Posted by Richard Metzger
11:09 am