News Corp. for First Time Details Tabloid Bribe for Story on Child Killer – Bloomberg
News Corp. (NWSA) for the first time publicly detailed bribery by a journalist at its now-defunct News of the World, telling a court that a former editor agreed to pay a prison guard to get a story about a child killer.
Matt Nixson, a features editor for five years at the News of the World, told a reporter in a March 7, 2009, e-mail to pay 750 pounds ($1,150) to the guard for details about a man who murdered two girls. Nixson then said to “chuck her some more money later” since she wanted 1,000 pounds, News Corp. said in court papers filed Dec. 13 in London and made public yesterday.
The disclosure is part of the company’s defense in Nixson’s lawsuit claiming he was wrongfully fired from News Corp.’s Sun tabloid, where he last worked, as the company sought to contain a phone-hacking scandal. News Corp. closed the News of the World in July after it was revealed it hacked into the voice mail of a different murdered schoolgirl in 2002.
Nixson “was guilty of gross misconduct, or at any rate, conduct justifying dismissal without notice or pay,” members of the company’s Management and Standards Committee, which is running the investigation, said in the court filing.
Nixson’s lawyer, Alison Downie of Goodman Derrick LLP in London, declined to immediately comment. He hasn’t been arrested as part of the Metropolitan Police’s probe into journalist bribery of police. At least eight people have been arrested, including a serving police officer on Dec. 21.
Nixson, who was fired in July, knew the bribe was wrong because he told the reporter, Matthew Acton, to arrange the payment “very carefully,” since the company had a “forensic new accountant who doesn’t brook any funny business,” according to the filing. Acton declined to comment when reached by phone.
Nixson also received an e-mail from another News of the World employee about phone hacking and “blagging,” or lying to get personal information for a story, and didn’t “raise an objection,” News Corp. said in the filing.
“I’ll get [REDACTED] to do his thing on [REDACTED]’s phone,” the unnamed employee said in the November 2005 e-mail to Nixson. The name of the employee and the proposed victim, a celebrity executive producer, were removed at the request of the Metropolitan Police, News Corp. said in the filing.