The British newspaper arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has agreed to settle at great expense a series of legal claims. The company admitted wide-scale phone hacking, something that was both known about and concealed by senior management. For years, Murdoch’s News International had claimed that the hacking of voicemails to generate stories was the work of a single “rogue” reporter who went to jail for the crime in 2007. But, as a result of a wave of damning evidence revealed last year, the company has finally admitted that the problem was widespread. This scandal has rocked the company, the British press, police and the political establishment in Great Britain.
In a statement that could further damage the firm’s reputation, lawyers for victims who have reached settlements said on January 19th that their agreements were based on News Group Newspapers, publisher of some of News International’s newspapers, acknowledging that its senior management were at fault. A statement by the lawyers reads:
News Group has agreed to compensation being assessed on the basis that senior employees and directors of NGN knew about the wrongdoing and sought to conceal it by deliberately deceiving investigators and destroying evidence.
Judge Geoffrey Vos heard the basis for the settlement in each case in a London Courtroom. At the end of each statement, a lawyer for News Corp confirmed the details outlined to the court. Settlements announced in court generally ranged from around 30,000 pounds ($46,000) to 60,000 pounds, while some of them were not revealed. These admissions could lead to increased scrutiny of James Murdoch, who has been heavily criticized for his handling of the situation.
While he was not in charge of News International at the time of the hacking, James Murdoch has been accused of leading a cover-up by the company. James Murdoch has denied all knowledge of the scale of the problem and blamed many of those around him for the failings. It will be interesting to see how his attempts to shift blame will stand up. Lawyers for the victims who settled had obtained documents from News International that revealed its attempts to destroy evidence.
Source: Insurance Journal
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