Murdoch expands internal inquiry of his UK papers

By REUTERS
August 30, 2011 18:05

Media mogul and his son, James, are to be questioned about the phone hacking scandal under oath in the UK High Court, the 'Telegraph' reports.

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Murdoch attacked

Murdoch Hearing 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Lawyers for Rupert Murdoch's News International are conducting a broad inquiry into reporting practices at all of the company's UK newspapers, according to sources who have been briefed on the probe.

Attorneys for Linklaters, the large London law firm leading the probe, will be looking for anything that US government investigators might be able to construe as evidence the company violated American law, particularly the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits corrupt payments to foreign officials, a source familiar with the investigation told Reuters.

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In addition to conducting personal interviews with selected journalists, lawyers will also be looking at email and financial records, said this source.

Separately, Rupert Murdoch and his son, James, are to be questioned about the phone hacking scandal under oath in the UK High Court, the country's Telegraph newspaper reported.

A second source close to the company said that just because the internal inquiry is examining reporting standards across Murdoch's UK papers, this does not mean there is evidence inappropriate activity occurred at News International's currently operating British properties.

News Corp acknowledges an extensive review is under way, although the details it released have been sparse.

"As is widely known, a review of journalistic standards is underway at News International with Linklaters assisting in the process," a company spokesperson told Reuters.

The spokesperson added the review was "part of a process that started a number of weeks ago."

That process is under the "ultimate control" of Joel Klein, a Murdoch executive in New York who formerly worked at the White House and US Justice Department; Viet Dinh, an outside News Corp director who also worked at the Justice Department; and the Management and Standards Committee.

The latter is a unit Murdoch created to handle corporate response and cleanup related to the uproar over allegations of phone hacking and questionable payments to police by News International journalists.

Journalists from the company's surviving British tabloid, The Sun, have already been interviewed for the internal investigation.

Interviews with journalists from The Sunday Times, one of Murdoch's two London "quality" papers, are scheduled to begin in September.

The inquiry is also expected to review reporting practices at Murdoch's other upscale British title, the Times of London, although people familiar with the investigation say the scope of the review at the daily paper is likely to be less extensive than at its sister papers.

Two people briefed on Linklater's activities said information about the extent of the inquiry had been widely communicated throughout the company over the last month.

One of these sources said only a selection of journalists -- including reporters involved in sensitive reporting projects -- were expected to be interviewed about their reporting methods.

Lawyers are also examining emails and financial records that might relate to matters under investigation by police, including phone hacking and questionable payments to police officers or other government officials.

One of the sources briefed on the inquiry said close scrutiny would be given to records of cash payouts requested or authorized by journalists at News International properties.


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