Phone Hacking Scandal: News round-up

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Posted on: 16 August 2011 by Alexander Hay

As the riots die down, the most persistent story of 2011 rears up again to provide the Murdoch clan and David Cameron's Chipping Norton set more sleepless nights.

Perhaps fittingly for someone who's pursued the Chinese market so vigorously, Rupert Murdoch and his News Corporation empire find themselves living in 'interesting times'.

The media feeding frenzy over the phone hacking scandal had waned after nasty rumours of 9/11 victims' families being hacked were officially denied by the FBI after an investigation.

And yet today sees a letter by disgraced News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman, sent as part of an attempt to get a better deal after he was shown the door for, as he claims, simply following orders. The news media, scenting blood, gathers...

The Guardian, which has lead the charge and most of the investigation of the scandal, leads with details from the letter. Apparently, not only was Clive Goodman's phone hacking authorised but all the senior management at News International knew about it.

Meanwhile, a senior law firm, Harbottle & Lewis, hired by Murdoch to investigate the claims back in 2007 has turned against its former employer, claiming it was in effect defamed by Murdoch and that it was unable to find evidence of wrongdoing simply because that was not what it was hired to do.

And as The Telegraph observes, this can only be bad news for James Murdoch, whose evidence given last month may now have been called into question. In particular, claims now abound that he was fully aware of the infamous 'For Neville' e-mail despite his denials.

(Elsewhere, The Independent reports that Citigroup has downgraded the share price of Trinity Mirror over its own hacking allegations, as MPs on the Media, Culture and Sport Select Committee are torn over whether to release more information.)

The Daily Mail reports that two very senior figures may be seriously damaged by these new allegations. The first of these is David Cameron himself, as questions about his wisdom in hiring Andy Coulson return to haunt him and the rest of the Chipping Norton set, and Rupert Murdoch's ally and former employee Les Hinton, who is alleged to have concealed Goodman's letter.

Meanwhile, and with his usual unnerving efficiency, the BBC's Robert Peston has more revelations. News International's former director of legal affairs has corroborated Harbottle & Lewis's story, while key former NI executives have been summoned back by the Media, Culture & Sport Select Committee.

Interesting times indeed.

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