At the risk of beating the News of the World scandal to death, we’ll just point out a couple of other news items that hit our inbox over the weekend.
A group of News Corp. shareholders has filed claims in Delaware Chancery Court accusing the media giant of colossal corporate governance failures surrounding the phone hacking scandal that led to the closure of the 168-year-old tabloid. Shareholders charge that News Corp.’s board of directors “failed to exercise proper oversight and take sufficient action since news of the hackings first surfaced more than five years ago.”
News Corp. shares, which had been steadily climbing since mid-June, are off about 9% since the scandal broke last week. Shares of BSkyB, the satellite TV network that Murdoch is hoping to buy, have lost £2.75 billion in value since the scandal broke. Analysts are speculating that the losses could scuttle Murdoch’s bid, a situation the media mogul had hoped to avoid by shuttering News of the World.
News Corp. CEO Rebekah Brooks is facing police questioning and at least nine journalists and three police officers could face jail as the scandal unfolds, reports the Daily Mail. New e-mail evidence indicates that “four-figure payments” may have been made to police officers to ignore the activities of private investigators hired by the tabloid. The Telegraph says the payments may have totaled more than £100,000
Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson (right) was arrested by detectives investigating the phone hacking and illegal payments to police during his tenure as editor of the News of the World. The action is causing some embarrassment for British Prime Minister David Cameron, who hired Coulson as his press spokesman despite knowing about his involvement in the alleged scandal. (Telegraph photo)
And it gets worse. Rupert Murdoch’s son, James, could face criminal prosecution in both the UK and the US over the phone-hacking charges, several outlets report. James Murdoch is chairman of News International, the News Corp. subsidiary that owns News of the World. He has admitted to making out-of-court settlements to victims of the phone hacks and to misleading Parliament, although he maintains he didn’t do so deliberately. Murdoch is liable for prosecution in the US because News Corp. is listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. “Under American law, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) makes it a crime for American companies to offer corrupt payments to foreign government officials,” says the Telegraph, which, like most British papers, is covering this scandal with gleeful abandon.
If you want more coverage of this unfolding story, follow it on Google News.
We are pleased to inform our readers that News of the World is not the same tabloid as Weekly World News, the US tabloid that has long been a crusader in its coverage of the threat of space aliens to our way of life. WWN is alive and well, and will continue in its mission to cover the stories that others fear to expose.