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2011-07-28 09:36 am

M: Fie, Ghastly Malefactrix

Evidence is emerging that describes the machinations of the flame-haired editrix, News International's former chair, Rebekah Brooks, as an unusually brutal and obsequious bloodthirsty operator. First, it is suggested that disgraced former NOTW editor Andy Coulson was placed by Brooks and James Murdoch as the prime minister's communications director to secure James' rise in NI. Second, it's revealed she gave a telephone to the mother of another murdered child -- a phone investigators now believed was hacked by NOTW. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jul/28/phone-hacking-sarah-payne
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2011-07-27 09:34 am
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M: Biographer Says Murdoch Spends Half of Every Day Speaking to Editors, and Lied to Parliament

Per the quote from Michael Wolff I first posted here, Murdoch biographer Wolff has now given an interview to the Independent accusing Rupert of lying in his Parliamentary testimony about his detachment from the newspaper operation.
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2011-07-27 09:10 am
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M: Cameron Cabinet Met with Murdoch as Much as 30 Times More Than With Other Newspaper Executives


And, The Big One, how great was Murdoch's influence over Tony Blair's part in the invasion of Iraq

More difficult for Blair to deny have been claims he owes a debt to Murdoch for his newspapers' support during the Iraq war. Freedom of information requests have confirmed the men spoke three times on the telephone shortly before the invasion started.

A new play, Loyalty, showing at Hampstead Theatre and written by the journalist Sarah Helm, wife of Blair's chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, hints at what the two men may have talked about.

In one scene, Murdoch rings Blair to tell him he has been speaking to the US secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld. Murdoch says: "Don's boys need [the UK military base] Diego Garcia, Tony."

Blair signs off: "Right, thanks Rupert." Although the play is a fictionalised memoir, Whitehall insiders say it has the ring of authenticity.

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2011-07-25 12:23 pm
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M: Solicitors' Regulatory Association to Launch NI Investigation

Back to the idea that Murdoch is a supranational nation state, with the newspapers acting as his enforcers.

The solicitors' professional association in Britain has announced a preliminary inquiry into crimes committed by lawyers in phone hacking scandal.

This investigation is launched as lawyers for celebs and other victims of phone hacking begin to discover their phones were hacked too.

Having suborned Scotland Yard, and, apparently, MI5, Murdoch may have corrupted some of his lawyers as well.

Finally, in the suborned lawyers front, the judge appointed by Prime Minister Cameron to sit on lead the inquiry into the phone hacking scandal has socialized with Murdoch's daughter. Whigs demand wigs scalps.

Lord Justice Leveson, not looking very swift.

Meanwhile, his rival the NYT has set David Carr to the task. In the business pages today, Carr sums things up pretty nicely, saying James is doomed since the Crone/Myler "his testimony was mistaken" announcement of last week, and its over for Rupe, too. Ding, dong!

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2011-07-22 09:25 am

M: Enter Bottom, Center Stage

BSkyB, in a fit of scrupulosity, are talking about taking James Murdoch out as chair at their next board meeting and replacing him with this upright citizen.

What's up with the mother of all toupees, sir?

One shareholder, who asked not to be named, said: "In the longer term it would seem better if there was an independent chairman who wasn't distracted by this sort of stuff. If he's found to have misled the committee then he could not sustain his position. You expect complete veracity in a company chairman."

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2011-07-21 07:38 pm

M: Busted Reporter Central to Coverup Worked As a Scotland Yard, MI5 Informer While Employed at NOTW

Police informant #281, News of the World senior writer, Neville Thurlbeck, keystone of the James Murdoch criminal liability story

This is so bent I'm just gabbling.

Neville Thurlbeck, NOTW's senior reporter, is the name on one of the smoking gun emails that the law firm, Harbottle and Lewis, sat on for four years. James Murdoch claimed in testimony Tuesday not to have known about hacking allegations against Thurlbeck when he settled another case out of court and declared the hacking scandal had been limited to one rogue reporter.

Today NOTW's lawyer, Tom Crone, followed Harbottle and Lewis' example, in disputing Murdoch's testimony before Parliament. Crone said he and NOTW editor Myler did tell James about the Neville email. This is an explosive revelation which implicates James -- who stands by his testimony -- in a coverup his former lawyers don't appear to be inclined to take the fall for.

Meanwhile, Thurlbeck's working as an official Scotland Yard and MI5 informant while he was working as a reporter, in exchange for tidbits from the National Police Computer, pretty much boggles the mind. Any organization which would permit anything like it is moving into the arena of insane. In case you didn't know, it's a big no-no to share your notes with anybody -- much less, the cops, the FBI and the CIA. Holy effin' shit.

...worked closely with Scotland Yard as official police source No 281. He was an unpaid employee of the National Criminal Intelligence Service, a liaison body between Scotland Yard's Special Branch and MI5.

Sources close to Thurlbeck
[I bet this is Thurlbeck himself, threatening to tell all] said that "people right at the top of News International were aware of his role".

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2011-07-21 06:48 pm

M: Murdoch Himself Pursues Vindictive News Stories

Murdoch denies he knows anything. But the smoking gun in Michael Wolff's biography is that Rupert Murdoch himself gets on the story personally when he wants revenge. His defense that his company employs 53,000 people and he can't possibly know what vindictive reporters are doing on his behalf is pure bullshit:

When Wolff shows him at his desk, eagerly pursuing a news story, it’s not one in the broader public interest. Rather, Murdoch has heard a rumor that a Hillary Clinton aide he greatly dislikes may be a partner in an online pornography venture, and has set himself — and a New York Post reporter — to trying to confirm it at all costs; it’s a personal vendetta disguised as ‘news’.

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2011-07-21 05:50 pm

M: Three Lawyers for Hack Victims Accuse Murdoch of Putting Them Under NOTW Surveillance

This is obstruction of justice, pure and simple.

I've just spoken to Mark Lewis, the lawyer for Milly Dowler's family, who has tonight told the police that he believes he was put under surveillance by News International because of his work representing phone hacking victims.

He reported his concerns to the police after Newsnight informed him today that they had heard from a reliable source that the lawyer's phone had been hacked around December last year, and he had also been followed by a private detective.

"I've now reported this to the police and made a formal complaint," said Lewis.

"It feels like walking into a John Grisham novel. Clients leave messages on my phone. It's not about trying to get a story now it's about getting information that could affect court cases."

He said that earlier this year the lawyers representing alleged victims of phone hacking had shared their suspicions that they were themselves being targeted by the News of the World.

"Things seemed to be happening to our phones and our computers," said Lewis, of Taylor Hampton Solicitors in London.

He added that an alleged victim of phone hacking whom he represents had also been the victim of "blagging" - where someone phones up people and organisations pretending to be someone else.

"One of my clients thinks she was being blagged and those phone calls are now the subject of a police inquiry," said Lewis.

11.27pm: Three solicitors representing phone hacking victims were themselves targets of the News of the World, according to Newsnight. They included Mark Lewis, the lawyer for the family of Milly Dowler and Gordon Taylor, the former head of the Professional Footballers' Association. The programme reported that the solicitors were not put under surveillance for the purpose of writing stories about them.

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2011-07-21 04:57 pm

M: NOTW Detective Whose 11,000 Pages of Notes Can Sink the Ship Has Payment of Legal Fees Terminated

Murdoch has been paying Mulcaire's legal fees on a key suit and has now terminated this policy. Mulcaire can now spill the totes beans.

Mulcaire was first ordered to answer questions in November last year. Lawyers acting for Nicola Phillips, a PR consultant who used to work for Max Clifford, secured a court order that he must disclose the identity of the person who instructed him to intercept her voicemail and that he must specifically say whether the then news editor of the News of the World, Ian Edmondson, had asked him to investigate Ms Phillips or other people connected with Max Clifford. A similar order was then made in the case brought by Steve Coogan.

However, News International then paid Mulcaire's legal fees to appeal against the rulings, apparently contradicting its public stance that it wanted the truth to be told about the affair.


Whether or not this helps Mulcaire in copping pleas to the many civil suits he face from individual victims of phone hacking, I cannot figure out.
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2011-07-21 02:10 pm

M: Labour Party Edges Rather Unpersuasively Toward Accusing Cameron of Dirty Tricks

It sounds like they're floating a trial balloon in hopes that a witness will step forward with the smoking gun evidence, or that the public will demand the PM fess up.

Nick Raynsford, the Labour MP who was local government minister, said: “I have been approached by an absolutely impeccable source, who has a lifetime of work in the public sector and was a senior official.
“He has told me that last summer he suspected his phone was hacked, his dustbin searched and covert surveillance took place on him.
“At the time, he was the subject of negative media briefing which he suspects was orchestrated by Andy Coulson at No 10. He complained to Sir Gus O’Donnell who advised him on the issue and put him in contact with the police.
“He now wishes this information to be put in the public domain.
“David Cameron must disclose as a matter of urgency whether he was warned of this incident, which suggests that potential criminality may have taken place at the heart of government.”

...Cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell has dismissed concerns that a senior civil servant's phone was hacked while Andy Coulson was in Downing Street as a "genuine misunderstanding", PA reports.

He said the individual had been subjected to "disgraceful, probably illegal, actions during the period about a year ago in which Andy Coulson was in charge of Government communications".

But O'Donnell said that although the civil servant had raised concerns about media harrassment and possible phone tampering, the matter was "thoroughly investigated" and no evidence of wrongdoing was found.

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2011-07-21 01:49 pm

M: The Sun, a Second Murdoch Title, Implicated in Phone Hacking Scandal


Sun features editor Matt Nixson, a former NOTW editor and Coulson crony, has had his computer seized and has been frog-marched out of the Sun's building by its managing editor. He was formerly features editor and news editor at NOTW, under Andy Coulson.

David Rose, assistant news editor of the Times, says the Sun journalist sacked tonight is features editor Matt Nixson.

He said on Twitter: "Matt Nixson features editor of the Sun has been sacked over allegations of serious misconduct while he was working for the News of the World."

Rose later added: "He was marched out of the building by the Sun's Managing Editor. Previously deputy features editor at #notw."

8.33pm: A former News of the World executive has been sacked from the Sun, according to Sky News.




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2011-07-21 01:20 pm

M: Murdoch Lawyer #2 Strikes Back

You read it here first.

NOTW legal manager Tom Crone and editor Myler assert that James Murdoch's testimony before parliament on the payout to soccer exec Taylor -- viewed in this space as where the rubber meets the road on James' criminal liability -- was "mistaken".


When the Guardian pointed out in the wake of his parliamentary testimony that Murdoch's son had sought to blame them for concealment, one friend of the two men said: "To contradict James will be as good as coming out and calling him a liar."

Myler and Crone, the News of the World's then editor and News International's top newspaper lawyer, both of whom have lost their jobs in the wake of the phone-hacking affair, subsequently spent the day debating what to do.

If their statement of Thursday nightis correct, Rupert's son will have proved to have misled parliament. He will also have destroyed the Murdoch family's last line of defence against the scandal – that they knew nothing, and had been betrayed by those underlings they trusted.

Myler and Crone are, in effect, accusing James Murdoch of being part of the cover-up, one in which the company's executives vainly twisted and turned to conceal the truth about phone hacking and blame it on a single "rogue reporter".


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2011-07-20 11:19 pm

M: The Palm Beach Post Weighs In

News reports say police want to talk to Miskiw about the burgeoning phone hacking scandal.

While he was at the News of the World, Miskiw famously said: "That is what we do - we go out and destroy other people's lives."

While the world on Tuesday was riveted by top news officials' testimony before Parliament, Palm Beach County once again found itself connected to an international scandal.

A spokesman for American Media Inc. confirmed that Miskiw worked at The Globe in Boca Raton for about two months this year and left several months ago. In June, Miskiw incorporated a company, News Team LLC, according to the Florida Secretary of State's Office.


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2011-07-20 10:59 pm

M: Nice Roundup on the Prime Minister Front

There are five issues that relate directly to Cameron in this long-running drama, his appointment of Andy Coulson, his extensive contacts with News International, the activities of his chief of staff Ed Llewellyn, his role in the BSkyB deal that almost came to spectacular fruition and his response to the firestorm of the last three weeks, the first crisis in which he, rather than Nick Clegg, has been the centre of attention. How damaging are each of the issues and is there more to come?


I'd add the explosive issue that Scotland Yard is out to get him, and the question of whether or not NI performed dark arts (hacking, police bribery, intimidation of enemies) for him or at his behest.
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2011-07-20 06:17 pm

M: Impunity

This piece, cited at UK's Open Democracy, sharpened my mind marvelously.

If true, it explains the nugget of the problem: politicians in Britain were afraid to investigate Murdoch for fear Rebekah Brooks would expose them. Scotland Yard has been accused of the same thing. NI was Murdoch's own independent investigating apparatus, suitable to an enormously powerful entity which, like al Qaeda, is not a nation-state.

This is beginning to remind me of the Ken Saro-Wiwa case, in which a journalist was hung by the government of Nigeria because he opposed Royal Dutch Shell's pollution of Ogoniland.

My Ken Saro-Wiwa bumper sticker is the only one I've ever had.
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2011-07-20 05:29 pm

M: Cameron Takes Down Criminal Investigation of Coverup

Part of the hair-raising pleasure of observing British politics is the skill with which rhetoric -- learned at the Oxford and Cambridge debating societies, which are the launch pad for careers in politics -- is deployed.

There's a classic name for this one, lobbed by Cameron, which only a Brit would know, having read it in the original Greek how-to by silver-tongued Demosthenes. Like the double-half-hitch-Tongue-Fu-Phi-Epsilon-whammy.

Cameron asserted this in his speech to Parliament today, and the salient bit which raised the hair on my arms was how he reframed what could easily be seen as a coverup -- his chief of staff's refusal to be briefed on hacking and/or his employee, Coulson -- as the right and proper thing to do.

No 10 has now published the full email exchange between my chief of Staff and John Yates and it shows my staff behaved entirely properly.

Ed Llewellyn’s reply to the police made clear that it would be not be appropriate to give me or my staff any privileged briefing.

The reply that he sent was cleared in advance by my Permanent Secretary, Jeremy Heywood.

Just imagine, Mr Speaker, if they had done the opposite and asked for, or acquiesced in receiving privileged information – even if there was no intention to use it.

There would have been quite justified outrage.

To risk any perception that No 10 was seeking to influence a sensitive police investigation in any way would have been completely wrong.

Mr Yates and Sir Paul both backed this judgment in their evidence yesterday.


I am almost certain that Yates and Sir Paul said nothing of the kind. And I'm certain my fiancé is on the case, since parsing who is lying seems to be his mandate at this point.

On the other hand, a reasonably trustworthy straight arrow leftish pundit says:
In another easily-missed aside, Cameron argued that Llewelyn was guiding the police towards not acting improperly.

It was by no means easily missed but stood out as some sort of pixelated and vibrating version of another reality.

I wonder what it does mean?
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2011-07-20 03:45 pm
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M: The Stateside Connection

Jay Rock, Senate commerce committee chair, asks Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, to investigate Rupe's road dog of 50+ years, Hinton, who resigned in the phone hacking fallout from Dow Jones Friday.

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2011-07-20 02:07 pm

Unrepentent and Vindictive Cameron Cripples Judicial Inquiry; NI Lets Its Lawyers Talk

...cripples the inquiry by adding the BBC, one of Murdoch's betes noire, to the list of press suspects to be investigated. The Guardian and the Independent, who have lead the phone hacking inquiry, are also to be added to the list of media to be investigated by the judicial inquiry Cameron himself set up two weeks ago to contain the phone hacking scandal.

"And not just at NI but also ... the BBC, the Independent and the Guardian. This is a cathartic moment to sort it out and put it on a proper footing."

This also makes the inquiry untenable in terms of getting it done with dispatch.

The inquiry has been divided into two parts, with the investigation into hacking allegations to start only after criminal allegations have been settled.

In other news of tiny nuggets that are likely flashpoints, the BBC reports that Murdoch has given his lawyers, Harbottle and Lewis, permission to respond to police and judicial inquiries. Harbottle are the people who sat on incriminating hack/bribery emails for years. Harbottle screamed bloody murder Tuesday after the Murdochs' testimony that Harbottle's response to inquiry was limited by attorney-client privilege. In a statement, Harbottle implied that if NI released them from the confidentiality privilege, the story would be very different from the Murdochs' testimony. At issue was the Murdochs' insistence that in every case of malfeasance, they were relying on the advice of counsel -- among other things, on the defense that the hacking was confined to one rogue reporter and that nothing else, including police bribery, apparently, had gone down.

Along with Scotland Yard and its allegations against Cameron, I think Harbottle will be the source of serious allegations against the Murdochs.

I'm hoping this is the beginning of the holy shit story.
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2011-07-20 01:31 pm

Deep Tartan

Ok, Spideysense points out that my fiance, Nick Davies, who has been in the lead on the phone hacking story for years and broke the Dowler story two weeks ago, does not have a byline on any story for the past four or five very, very exciting days, since his appreciation of Sean Hoare, the former NotW reporter who was the NYT source on phone hacking, who found dead last week.

Either Murdoch has suicided Nick, in which case the police would have called us, or, as I suspect, he is closeted with leaking Scotland Yarders getting the goods on Cameron. Former Yard chieftains Stephenson and Yates are reportedly furious that while they had to resign for hiring a tainted NotW exec (Wallis), Cameron, who did the same (Coulson), doesn't seem to think he does.

This, as I point out elsewhere, is the point at which Watergate started to get serious -- when the FBI informant, Mark Felt, contacted Woodward and started to guide the coverage.

Yeah, baby. Age and treachery will always overcome youth and talent.

I await with trembling pleasure my fiance Nick Davies' next byline.

Here it is. It's the second byline here. I have to figure out what that means.

It definitely sounds like a Harbottle leak, based on the "Neville" email.

Sounds like the Guardian is going after inconsistencies in the Murdochs' testimony, which is, after all, the main meat. James' payout to a hacking victim -- in which the incriminatory email and other records were sealed -- is the criminal allegation against James, as well as, apparently, the basis of an inquiry by the British Serious Fraud office which would apparently characterize the misallocation of corporate funds -- hush money -- as fraud of shareholders. Hottttttt.