Rupert Murdoch reporters in the UK illegally hacked thousands of peoples' data

British journalists working for Murdoch papers have been on a crime spree, hiring private eyes to illegally hack into the voicemail and data of thousands of people, including " tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemised phone bills"; Murdoch has paid out over £1M so far to hush it up. The head of the Conservative party's communications is a former Murdoch exec who from the time that much of this crime was committed by his staffers.
Senior editors are among those implicated. This activity occurred before the mobile phone hacking, at a time when Coulson was deputy and the editor was Rebekah Wade, now due to become chief executive of News International. The extent of their personal knowledge, if any, is not clear: the News of the World has always insisted that it would not break the law and would use subterfuge only if essential in the public interest.

Faced with this evidence, News International changed their position, started offering huge cash payments to settle the case out of court, and finally paid out £700,000 in legal costs and damages on the condition that Taylor signed a gagging clause to prevent him speaking about the case. The payment is believed to have included more than £400,000 in damages. News Group then persuaded the court to seal the file on Taylor's case to prevent all public access, even though it contained prima facie evidence of criminal activity.

As civil liberties campaigner Dr Ian Brown notes:
There are two particularly troubling aspects to this story. The Metropolitan Police, Crown Prosecution Service and Information Commissioner's Office all had prima facie evidence of these crimes, but have declined to take action against News Group. And, mobile phone companies continue to allow access to messages using voicemail PINs set to defaults that are apparently known throughout the media. Perhaps in future:

1. Law enforcement agencies will take action against those discovered to be breaking the law, whether or not they work for powerful newspaper groups?

2. Mobile phone companies will not leave their customers' communications wide open to abuse?

3. Government agencies and companies will think a little more carefully before building up large collections of sensitive personal data that will inevitably be sold to the highest bidder?

Murdoch papers paid £1m to gag phone-hacking victims


  1. News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman has already been jailed for this in 2007…. You’d think they would learn from that..

  2. @Neill: It certainly appears that they did learn from that. However, they learned “Impunity fucking rules!” rather than “Maybe we ought to obey the law”…

  3. Let’s look at Ole Rupert a moment

    New York Post
    The Times of London
    Twentieth Century Fox Studio/Fox Network
    Fox News
    35 TV stations
    19 regional sports channels

    Well… certainly a tad more interesting.
    Murdock has spent his career in an Orwellian attempt to twist the ‘newspaper’ into a political organ for conservative and corporate interests.
    Now, should his companies, and himself be allowed to walk away from this with a slap on the wrist? I say no.

  4. The New York Times’ article says the Guardian doesn’t cite a single source in its claim that News Corp. paid $1.6m in “damages and legal costs” to three footballers. Moreover, all of the allegations “could not be independently verified” by the NYT. This is not a sign that the article is unfounded, and the Guardian probably wants to protect its sources, since this is a sensitive issue. But running with the allegations instead of the story is unwise, even if the former makes for a better headline.

    If this is true, I hope part of News Corp.’s punishment requires that it stop inserting random one-page sports “sections” into the Wall Street Journal.

  5. Old Rupert ain’t gonna live forever. What are his plans for an heir? His wife? His son? Who is he building all of this power for?

  6. Its a common thing in the UK: journalists hire private investigators who have people working in phone companies, at the social security, police etc on their payroll. When some hard to obtain information is needed by a journalist (ie. link a plate number to someone) they call in the PI and ask for the info. This is called the “Dark Art” in british journalism.

  7. “3. Government agencies and companies will think a little more carefully before building up large collections of sensitive personal data that will inevitably be sold to the highest bidder?”

    You’re kidding right? Governments assume their networks are comepletely secure, regardless of how many times they get broken into/ stolen/ leaked/ whatever. I think that on some level they plan on it.

  8. Murdoch’s untouchable. Nothing will happen to him/Newscorp, as you can’t get elected in the UK without them. Simple as that.

  9. What does this mean:

    The head of the Conservative party’s communications is a former Murdoch exec who from the time that much of this crime was committed by his staffers.

  10. As other commentators have pointed out: this really means nothing. The UK’s so stuffed that it’s unlikely to have any long-term affect on the powers-that-be, which have proven themselves to be steadfastly corrupt in the past few months.

    (And I know that the above sentence sounds horrifically dour, but we just Britons just had the Parliment-wide revelation that our MP’s were generally stashing money into plastic bags ‘fer later’, we’ve re-nationalised banks for no end, and we can’t afford to pay the wages for any public servants. So please excuse my lack of joi de vie in regards to the idea of justice being forthcoming)

  11. I predict the next wave of the politically marginalized that turn to violence will be targeting people like Murdoch rather than the sock-puppets they have installed in public office. What will he do then? Reveal his power by co-opting the military as his private body guard?

Comments are closed.