How Much Darker Can News Corp's Phone Hacking Story Get?
After James Murdoch's resignation from News International, new revelations ranging from the attempted suicides of staffers to an executive-level conspiracy against the police are adding a macabre layer to an already twisted story.
After James Murdoch's resignation from News International, new revelations ranging from the attempted suicides of staffers to an executive-level conspiracy against the police are adding a macabre layer to an already twisted story. The tension at News International is so strained that at least one manager has hired security guards out of fear for his personal safety. This all comes on top of the various lawsuits and investigations into phone hacking, computer hacking, and bribery, which threaten to bring Rupert Murdoch's newspaper division to its knees.
Most of the new details about the News Corp. phone hacking nightmare come from the witnesses in three separate police investigations and the ongoing Levenson Inquiry. But behind-the-scenes, some former News Corp. employees are starting to report on current News Corp. employees. On Wednesday, Neville Thurlbeck -- the journalist at the center of the now infamous email thread that revealed the widespread use of phone hacking to James Murdoch -- reported that a member of News Corp.'s management and standards committee, Will Lewis, had hired a private security detail. Thurlbeck links Lewis's decision to Tuesday's news from the London Evening Standard that two senior journalists at the Murdoch-owned Sun newspaper had attempted suicide. If News international employees are willing to kill themselves, one wonders, what would they do to the well-paid executives who should've maintained and monitored the company's ethical standards?
It's becoming increasingly clear, however, that it was those very executives who were knowingly breaking the rules. Rebekah Brooks, who had appointed the lawyer to handle all of the police investigations, is now being named among the obstruction of justice allegations. Just last week, more damning emails surfaced showing Brooks also knew about widespread phone hacking while she was an editor at The Sun. A new Bloomberg report explains how a recently discovered email reveals "that hacking victims were more widespread than the New York-based media company had admitted -- and included Brooks herself." It adds, "The e-mail, sent between two News of the World managers, suggests that from the beginning of the phone-hacking scandal, there was a conspiracy among senior executives to deceive the police and a separate, parliamentary probe into phone hacking." No wonder News Corp. employees are disgruntled.
So who's left to solve the crimes and suss out the criminals? The police and the press, it would seem. However, after nearly a year of fact-finding and corruption-uncovering, the relationship between the two groups is worse than ever. Why? Because police are now afraid of the press. The Guardian's Sandra Leville covered the testimony of former Metropolitan police commissioner Lord Stevens, who said some discouraging things this week about the relationship between his colleagues and the media: "From what I have heard people are absolutely terrified of picking up the phone and speaking to the press in any way." Stevens later added, "Let me make this clear: in my view this is extremely damaging to British policing," he told the inquiry. "It is precisely in these conditions that public order outbreaks occur as community tensions are heightened and there is public concern over the actions of the police."
The bright side of this dark story must be how News Corp. and its executives inevitably seem to be victims of their own crimes. While others have suffered at the company's behest, justice is beginning to be served.