In the Media

Full text: MPs' report into phone hacking and News International

PUBLISHED May 1, 2012

What the report concludes about the key players:

Rupert Murdoch

On the basis of the facts and evidence before the Committee, we conclude that, if at all relevant times Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone-hacking, he turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications. This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organisation and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International. We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.

James Murdoch

As for corporate culture, James Murdoch's characterisation of the epiphany moment in December, 2010 - when they allegedly realised that the 'one rogue reporter' defence could not be true and leapt into action - is also at odds with the company's behaviour afterwards.

In failing to investigate properly, and by ignoring evidence of widespread wrongdoing, News International and its parent News Corporation exhibited wilful blindness, for which the companies' directors - including Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch - should ultimately be prepared to take responsibility.

Les Hinton

Les Hinton misled the Committee in 2009 in not telling the truth about payments to Clive Goodman and his role in authorising them, including the payment of his legal fee. He also misled the Committee about the extent of his knowledge of allegations that phone-hacking extended beyond Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire to others at the News of the World.

Colin Myler, the former News of the World editor, and Tom Crone, its lawyer

Tom Crone and Colin Myler misled the Committee by answering questions falsely about their knowledge of evidence that other News of the World employees had been involved in phone-hacking and other wrongdoing.

Tom Crone was Legal Manager of News Group Newspapers in 2002 and was on duty on the night of 13 April 2002, when the News of the World was engaged in producing an article based on information gleaned from the illegal accessing of Milly Dowler's voicemail. He has said that he does not remember the article in question. It is, however, very unlikely that he had no sight of at least the first edition article before he left on the night of 13 April 2002. It is indeed highly probable, in view of his role at the newspaper, that he was responsible for checking the original article's content, at the very least. Anybody who saw that article will have been aware that the information came from Milly Dowler's voicemail account. Any competent newspaper lawyer could reasonably have been expected to ask questions about how that information had been obtained.

Rebekah Brooks

Rebekah Brooks was Editor of the News of the World at the time that reporters from that paper illegally accessed Milly Dowler's voicemail in 2002. She told us that she only became aware of the hacking of Milly Dowler's telephone in early July 2011. In support of this, we note that she has stated that she was on holiday between 9 and 13 April 2002, the period over which Surrey Police had most contact with the News of the World about the Milly Dowler story, although she had returned by the following week, and contact with Surrey Police continued until 20 April 2002.

Impersonating members of a missing girl's family; besieging an employment agency; falsely asserting cooperation with the police; falsely quoting the police; and, according to their own account, obtaining Milly Dowler's mobile telephone number from her school friends are hardly the actions of a respectful and responsible news outlet. For those actions, and the culture which permitted them, the Editor should accept responsibility.

John Yates, the former Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, and Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions

[Yates and Starmer] were personally involved in the key events that occurred in 2006-07. Given the extraordinary revelations in the media and in civil court cases in the years that followed, however, they both bear culpability for failing to ensure that the evidence held by the Metropolitan Police was properly investigated in theyears afterwards, given all the opportunities to do so, and that the sufficiency of the evidence was not reviewed by the CPS.

News International

The News of the World and News International misled the Committee about the true nature and extent of the internal investigations they professed to have carried out in relation to phone hacking; by making statements they would have known were not fully truthful; and by failing to disclose documents which would have helped expose the truth.

Their instinct throughout, until it was too late, was to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing and discipline the perpetrators, as they also professed they would do after the criminal convictions.

The Metropolitan Police

Each subsequent revelation of additional victims or evidence which may implicate other journalists beyond the original one 'rogue reporter' strengthens the impression that the police at that time had no interest or willingness to uncover the full extent of the phone-hacking which had taken place.