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One front of phone hacking fallout is the prime minister's having hired one of the alleged NotW hackers as communications director, first for the Conservative Party and then as the news director for the Prime Minister.

The opposition leader Miliband and others are trying to make something out of this, which is a serious error of judgment on the part of Cameron, who has stubbornly defended both Coulson, the editor in question, and his decision to hire him.

What is emerging is that Cameron's enemies -- now, most formidably, Scotland Yard itself -- are trying to make stick is the fury of the Scotland Yard executives, who, using a defense similar to Murdoch and Brooks -- we're not the only dirty dogs in this fiasco -- are disclosing details of their relation with the prime minister in their testimony before Parliament.

Their explicitly expressed anger is that if their two senior officers, Stephenson and Yates, the two senior police officers in Britain, had to resign because they hired an NotW executive (Wallis), why should the Prime Minister, who hired an even skankier NotW executive (Coulson), not resign also?

What both Stephenson, who resigned on Sunday, and Yates, ditto, told Parliament on Monday is that they both warned the prime minister's chief of staff about phone hacking matters, and the chief of staff asked them explicitly not to contaminate the prime minister with such information.

The prime minister -- and this is the very nice thing about making a cop your enemy -- was forced to release the text of emails between Yates and the chief of staff indicating the sort of menacing euphemisms these people used with each other.
Cut for the quote )

Cameron is also accused of innappropriate discussion of the BSkyB satellite TV takeover with the Murdochs.

And, quite murkily, but potentially most damaging, in Parliament today, an MP has alleged that a government official was hacked during Coulson's tenure as director of the Cameron government media service.

Finally, I forgot who, is trying to make something out of the fact that Coulson, while government news media director, consulted with his former NotW colleague, Wallis, who was also on retainer at Scotland Yard. If Wallis' two jobs overlapped, and/or if Scotland Yard info was tendered by Wallis, or vice versa 10 Downing Street info by Coulson, this would be potentially serious.

I think if Cameron's got Scotland Yard pissed off, and its well-liked former assistant commissioner Yates is encouraging his former colleagues to release confidential information after his abrupt resignation from the force, that the prime minister is in big trouble. Leaks from Scotland Yard will bring him down; I suspect the Mandarin's phone hacked story brought to bear in Parliament today is a leak from Scotland Yard.

Do they always get their man?
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As I predicted, US shareholders and execs at News Corp. are watching Rupe's testimony closely. They're discussing retiring him as CEO, and letting him stay on as chair, promoting Carey to CEO.http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-18/news-corp-said-to-consider-naming-chase-carey-as-ceo-suceeding-murdoch.html

Meanwhile, the independent directors of News Corp. are lawyering up.

Bloomberg pundits parse the Murdochs' testimony, saying stock rallied, James has positioned himself well for succession, and that we should buy News Corp. stock.

Who thinks James was gunning for succession in that appearance? After all the speculation about how he's going to have to step up to possible criminal charges for the L700K settlement payout to one of the hackers.
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Labour MP Farrelly, a former reporter/editor for the Observer, queries Trix:

Paul Farrelly is asking about Jon Chapman, the legal adviser who recently left the company. Did Chapman asks Harbottle & Lewis to sit on the evidence suggesting wrong-doing.

Brooks says Harbottle & Lewis are a respected legal firm. Chapman was a respected lawyer. He would not have done that.

Q: Chapman seems to be the fall guy? Did he act alone?

Brooks says Chapman would say, if asked, that when they looked at the file, they would have felt that the Harbottle & Lewis letter saying there was no evidence of wrongdoing was correct.

Q: Did you ask other editors in 2009 not to give the phone hacking story much play?

Brooks says she would have discussed industry matters with people like [Daily Mail editor] Paul Dacre. But she does not recall specifically phoning him up to discuss this.

(That seems to be a reference to this story.)


One basic defense, emanating apparently from Rupe himself, is that all the British newspapers hack phones and bribe police. Dacre has been told, in no uncertain terms, that Rupe was not going to be the only dirty dog. How this exonerates you from illegal activity, and also encourages your rival not to cut your balls off, I do not understand.

Brooks repeatedly made threatening reference to Farrelly's former employment as a reporter, suggesting that he or his former employer were also guilty of illegal dark arts.

One lawyer said Farrelly landed "the killer punch", getting the Murdochs to admit they're now paying the legal fees for the detective whose 11,000 pages of notes of phones hacked on behalf of NotW lay in garbage bags on Scotland Yard's evidence shelves for -- six years?
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These are the lawyers who sat on the incriminating stash of NotW e-mails (I believe) for four years. Rupe and James frequently testified today that they relied on the advice of counsel to assert that the investigation was over and there was no further "emerging evidence". Harbottle and Lewis quickly issued this denial:

Harbottle & Lewis said in a statement issued this evening:

News International representatives referred to our advice in their statements today before the Parliamentary Select Committee, both as a result of questioning and on their own account.

We asked News International to release us from our professional duties of confidentiality in order that we could respond to any inaccurate statements or contentions and to explain events in 2007.

News International declined that request, and so we are still unable to respond in any detail as to our advice or the scope of our instructions in 2007, which is a matter of great regret.

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Rebekah Brooks, the flame-haired editrix, basically said she was shocked, shocked to discover her managing editor was paying detectives to hack phones.

I didn't catch her testimony, only the parting shot, in which she asked the committee to invite her back when the charges against her have been settled. This sounds like extortion to me.
Brooks is asked if she has anything to add.

She wants to make a request to the committee that, when she is free from the legal constraints that she says she is under today, they will invite her back to answer "in a more fulsome way".

The answer from committee chairman John Whittingdale is yes. Her appearance in front of the committee is over now.


Again, why would a reponsible executive promote to the highest reaches of the company someone who claims not to know what the managing editor of her paper was doing, and threatens to expose others the minute she has stopped defending herself against hacking and police bribery charges, implying she is singing like a bird to the police?
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The Guardian's insta-pundit review of the Murdochs' testimony:

In brief, here was Andrew Sparrow's view of the Murdochs:

Rupert Murdoch

"Most humble day of my career" was the soundbite he gave us, but humility wasn't really what anyone will remember. It will be the short, gruff answers, delivered as if he was not entirely clear what had been going on. Was it because he's 80 and he can't hear very well any more, or was it because he didn't really want to engage? Probably a mixture of the two. But he did seem unflappable when the "foam hacker" struck. Tough bugger.

James Murdoch

Evasive, but in a way that was smooth and articulate. He kept telling the MPs how good their questions were and launching into long answers that weren't always particularly illuminating.


All in all, I think they set themselves up to be fired as incompetent by the boards of News Corp., and as active in a conspiracy to cover up crimes in any future legal action by the U.S. Department of Justice and the British Serious Fraud Office. Rupe's saying he only paid attention to what happens at the Wall Street Journal is the flaming rocket Eric Holder will see heading toward his backside.
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I only caught the last and most xciting part of ITN's live stream of the Murdoch hearings in the House of Commons. It much amuses me as you will have guessed, to have the freedom to pit my nose for news against the others, and so, before I go and read the extensive live blog transcripts at the Guardian, I am going to lay down my impressions.

I was impressed by James' demeanor. He acts forthright very well. His stepping in to clarify the bumptious and yet out-of-it remarks of the Wendinator's shar-pei, his honorable father, the artist formerly known as Rupert Murdoch, tells at least half of the tale. (You were wondering why News Corp. is looking into China as its next venue? Now you know.)

What I thought was monstrous was how James, who is clearly the only compos mentis person present, kept referring to a sewage of events as "emerging evidence", as if he were a cop investigating something far away for which he bore absolutely no responsibility. I do think it's the only way he could have played it. But it was bad.
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With a wife like this, who needs a Wackenhut?

Some kind of violence or mishap has interrupted the live coverage of the Murdoch testimony. The last thing I saw was Wendi, nee Deng Wende, rising to hit someone along with others in a crowd.
I suspect someone was heading toward Rupe, seated at the table in front of her.

Jane Martinson reports from the hearing: "He was sitting four rows back, calmly walked up with a plate of shaving foam - smacked it in Rupert's face - Wendi intervened."

Room has been cleared, Rupe laved, and inquisition continues.

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Mr. and Mrs. Trix

The flame-haired editrix has a husband, her second.

(The first is an actor famous mainly for being punched out by the flame-haired editrix, when he is not acting a "hard man" in the long-running lowbrow Britsoap, East Enders).

Said husband #2, who sounds like a bookie, tried to claim a bag containing a computer, a telephone, and other papers which had been found in a garbage can in a parking lot near the Trixes' London house.

The security guard wouldn't turn it over and called the police.

Mr. Trix says the computer is his, and that by no stretch of the imagination did he bin the bag, he left the bag with a friend, who just dropped the bag off in the parking lot for Mr. Trix to pick up. Nuthin to do with nuthin, says Mr. Trix' own PR person.

This just gets better and better.


Jul. 18th, 2011 02:23 pm
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As Rupe prepares for his cross-examination before a House of Commons committee tomorrow, News Corp are said to be worrying about whether the defensive, maudlin 80-year-old's testimony will sink the ship and require his ouster as CEO from the corporation.

Here are his coaches.
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Not seen as a suspicious death.

In a subsequent interview with the BBC [former NotW reporter Sean Hoare] alleged that he was personally asked by his then-editor, Coulson, to tap into phones. In an interview with the PM programme he said Coulson's insistence that he didn't know about the practice was "a lie, it is simply a lie".

At the time a Downing Street spokeswoman said Coulson totally and utterly denied the allegations and said he had "never condoned the use of phone hacking and nor do I have any recollection of incidences where phone hacking took place".

Sean Hoare, a one-time close friend of Coulson's, told the New York Times the two men first worked together at the Sun, where, Hoare said, he played tape recordings of hacked messages for Coulson. At the News of the World, Hoare said he continued to inform Coulson of his activities. Coulson "actively encouraged me to do it", Hoare said.


Reading the magisterial 2010 Times piece yesterday, I said to myself, there's a suicide among these sources.

If I'm wrong, we're into the big time now. Murder not out of the question, as the alleged murderer Rees, who was acquitted of charges he sunk an ax into his business partner's head, was a PI hired by the NotW exec Coulson, who went on to become prime minister Cameron's communications director. Acquitted ax murderer Rees was on Coulson's NotW payroll for years, before and after two criminal trials.

Rees, who had worked for the paper for seven years, was jailed for planting cocaine on a woman in order to discredit her during divorce proceedings. After his release from prison Rees, who had been bugged for six months by Scotland Yard because of his links with corrupt police officers, was rehired by the News of the World, which was being edited by Andy Coulson.
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The officer in charge during the Menezes shooting will take the place of assistant commissioner Yates, who has resigned in the phone hacking scandal.



Jul. 18th, 2011 07:26 am
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Britain's top counter terrorism officer, Scotland Yard assistant commissioner John Yates, has also resigned in the wake of the phone hacking cover up.

Former News International chair Rebekah Brooks says she will testify before the House of Commons tomorrow as scheduled, despite her arrest on police bribery and phone hacking charges.

Former Scotland Yard commish Stephenson was to have testified today before another HoC cmtee, have to track down whether or not his resignation yesterday scotched it.

PM David Cameron is flying back early from a South African junket to make a statement, as calls for his resignation start surging after Stephenson's resignation.

Stephenson basically said the PM was more crooked than he was in his resignation speech. Having hired a tainted Murdoch exec himself, Stephenson said the prime minister's own tainted Murdoch exec was even stinkier than Stephenson's own, so stinky that Stephenson felt as top cop he couldn't share info freely with the PM. Excellent. Excellent.

Cameron, on the road in South Africa, responds to Stephenson's veiled accusations, quite clearly and effectively:

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Opening a new front in legal issues for News International and its UK publishing subsidiary, News Corp., Britain's Serious Fraud Office is pondering an investigation into the six-figure settlements News Corp. has made with its hacking victims. It is not clear whether police bribes and £8.5 million in gag-order payouts to former execs are to be investigated.

A crusading MP has asked the SFO to do so. No confirmation or denial, per usual practice, from the SFO that it will.

Since James Murdoch's only admitted role in the phone-hacking scandal is signing off on a six-figure settlement to one hacking victim, a query into whether or not News Corp. was misallocating its funds would target James, as well as apparently making shareholders of News International victims of the fraud. Britain's Channel 4 finance dude Faisal Islam also asserts that the Serious Fraud Office would be the agent in Britain of any U.S. Department of Justice investigation.

FYI, here's the link to the magisterial 10/10 NYT Mag piece on the whole scandal -- the forest and the trees of the last 10 days' narrative. It is alleged to be the cannonade across the SS Rupe's bow by the NYT, targeted by Rupe as a rival and an enemy of his Manhattan sinecure, the Wall Street Journal.
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If, as seems likely, her arrest prevents her from giving public evidence on Tuesday to MPs on the culture, media and sport Commons committee, her many friends in high places may be slightly relieved.

In the current climate of criticism of News International, there will be quite a few powerful people who would be pleased if the brightest possible media light isn't shone on their close and personal relationship with Mrs Brooks.

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Sir Paul has been outed accepting a free $17,000 stay at a spa whose PR guy is the newly arrested former NotW editor, Wallis, that Sir Paul hired as Scotland Yard's media consultant on the NotW phone hacking inquiry.

Various stories say Scotland Yard paid the spa fee and others say it didn't. The spa owner disputes there was any connection between the PR guy and Sir Paul's alleged freebie.

A Met [Scotland Yard] spokesman confirmed last night that the Commissioner had stayed for free at Champneys while recovering from the fracture. The medical treatment he received there was paid for by Scotland Yard. But the spokesman denied any suggestion of impropriety.

Sir Paul is scheduled for questioning at the same House of Commons inquiry to which the Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks have been summonsed. Boneheadedness and cop petulance seem to be the defense. Yates and another clown testified before the Commons last week that they hadn't pursued the hacking inquiry because NotW wouldn't cooperate. Despite the MPs -- and the world's -- laughter, this defense is still being mounted by Scotland Yard:

On the same day, Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, will be grilled by the home affairs select committee on the police’s failure to fully investigate the hacking in 2005 and 2006 and again in 2009.
He will be asked why he employed Neil Wallis, the former deputy editor of the News of the World who was arrested last week, as a media adviser. Sources have told The Sunday Telegraph that Sir Paul’s job as Britain’s most senior police officer is now under threat and his performance at the committee could be the deciding factor in whether he survives. Last night, Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, and Theresa May, the Home Secretary, offered him only lukewarm support.
Senior officers at Scotland Yard are furious that they are taking a large share of the blame when News International blocked inquiries. The source said News International had given assurances that they were co-operating fully in the initial investigation and that, as a result, it was impossible for police to obtain court orders allowing them to seize further material that would have proved a wider conspiracy.


I say Sir Paul will not be arrested but will be fired. Or his assistants, Yates and...(TK) will be.

James? Will be fired from his BSkyB chairmanship, from his News Corp. positions, and will be arrested on inconclusive evidence (nevertheless persuasive to me) around his paying hush money to one phone hacking victim. As this payout case apparently also involves NotW legal manager Tom Crone (who resigned with a £1.5 million payout pegged to a gag order), I'm looking to see some kind of legal action there, like Crone selling James out for immunity.

This just in:
A senior Scotland Yard officer has told The Sunday Telegraph that News International executives – including Mr Murdoch’s son James – are being investigated for any alleged role in covering up the extent of “industrial scale” phone hacking.
The Metropolitan Police want to know why a series of emails, dating back to 2006, were only made available to detectives in January, prompting the current inquiry that has led in the past two weeks to the closure of the News of the World, the resignations of executives Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton, the arrest of Andy Coulson and the scrapping of News Corporation’s proposed takeover of BSkyB.
The source said: “News International appears to have covered up this scandal. That is potentially a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. It would have to be proved that James Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks or any other senior executive knew the information handed over in 2011 was actually in the system in 2006 and suppressed it.


I think this, former British treasury minister Lord Myners calling for James' ouster from BSkyB, was the kiss of death for James -- the analog of Prince Saud's call for the ouster of Brooks. Pretty much all I want to know is whether or not Lord Myners allowed himself to be filmed making the announcement on his yacht at Cannes, fingering his worry beads.

The flame-haired editrix got £3.5 million pay out/gag order (reportedly except for criminal investigations); it'll be interesting to see if she cops a plea. I say she won't, in hopes of additional future payouts from News Corp.

£3.5 million doesn't go far when you have to arrive at Elisabeth Murdoch power parties in your own copter.

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Jude Law claims NotW hacked his phone while he was in America. That opens the Murdochs up for possible prosecution here.

Brian Kabateck, a Los Angeles lawyer who has represented victims of phone hacking in the U.S. told the Daily Telegraph: 'If phones or messages were hacked while these individuals were here in the US, this would clearly be a criminal offence under the federal wiretap acts.
'The authorities take this very seriously here. As well as being an offence under federal status, the victims would also have the right to bring a civil damages case.'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2015624/Rupert-Murdoch-face-US-court-Jude-Law-phone-hacking-NY-claim.html#ixzz1SO58nlYF

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Keith Vaz, chairman of Commons committee which summonsed her to testify Tuesday, says the arrest will make it impossible for her to answer substantive questions.

Labour MP Chris Bryant, who led a recent House of Commons debate on phone hacking, questioned whether her arrest was a 'ruse' ahead of the committee hearing.
He told Sky News: 'I don't want to overstress that argument but it's unusual to be arrested on Sunday by appointment - why couldn't that have happened tomorrow or Wednesday or whenever?'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2015677/Rebekah-Brooks-arrested-phone-hacking-scandal-News-International.html#ixzz1SNulf62b


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