Murdoch empire rocked as probe widens –

by peterjukes

The MSC, under the chairmanship of Lord Grabiner QC, reports to the News Corp board through Joel Klein, one of Mr Murdoch’s closest executives, and Viet Dinh, a non-executive who has steered the board’s response.

With about 100 lawyers, forensic IT specialists and accountants, the MSC is poring over 300m emails dating back 10 years. Information passed to the police is stripped of details that could reveal legitimate sources, to calm worried reporters.

One focus of the MSC’s work, a person close to the group said, is the system that allowed journalists to make cash payments to sources. The Sun has long told readers it paid for news tips, and one veteran said reporters might have disguised the identity of their sources when seeking cash from their superiors.

The scale of those payments and how they were accounted for remains unclear.

News Corp’s need to be seen to be leaving no stone unturned has brought it into conflict with journalists who expected the company to stand behind them. One said: “You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”

“When you work for The Sun you accept you don’t have many friends,” The Sun veteran said, noting that this was the source of its camaraderie. Now, he said, some of its best reporters “have been taken by their own people”.

Chris Bryant, a Labour MP and phone-hacked target, raised concerns that journalists were “paying the price” for News Corp’s actions. “I would much rather that The Sun came under new management.” The tabloid’s problems were endemic, he argued. “It wasn’t just one rotten apple, it was a whole orchard.”

Other risks remain. Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, on Sunday also highlighted pressure for new press regulation as Tom Watson, a Labour MP and News Corp critic, told the FT the police should take the investigation wherever the evidence led them.

Sun journalists’ anger is also targeted at James Murdoch, who took over News Corp Europe in 2007, and is under pressure over suggestions that he should have known in 2008 that hacking was widespread.

With James Murdoch’s UK team being thinned down and the Wapping headquarters where Rupert Murdoch battled print unions a generation ago up for sale, they worry that London is turning from a source of the Murdochs’ power into a lonelier outpost in the empire.

via Murdoch empire rocked as probe widens –