[hackgate] Inside Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper clean-up operation … ‘On a typical day, say people who are familiar with the operations of the Management and Standards Committee (MSC), up to 100 personnel from several of London’s top law firms as well as forensic advisers and computer experts file into the MSC’s office through special security to search through more than 300 million emails, expense claims, phone records and other documents that amount to several terabytes of data. Their work is expected to take at least another 18 months. Reams of paperwork that cannot fit in the offices are stored in warehouses at another, secret location. In an unusual arrangement, 15 or 20 police are embedded with the team.’
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August 10, 2011
[hackgate] How Bad Is News Corp? … more From Michael Wolff On Hackgate … ‘In London, there have now been 10 arrests. While British law does not provide for the kind of U.S.-style plea bargaining that can easily flip a co-conspirator, there is, ever-more apparently, no where else to turn. There will be no News International safe haven in terms of cash or comfort. While the company continues to pay legal fees, and, in the case of Rebekah Brooks, apparently continues to keep her on the payroll (despite representations otherwise), this is a last gasp of the company’s ability to buy dedication. There are too many questions now. In other words, the value of loyalty is fast running out. In the end, it will be a human drama, as all scandals are, about lives and careers upended and the necessity to save yourself.’
At one point, he says, a senior editor at the Sun made a point of sending him a message via another Labour MP: “Tell that fat bastard Watson we know about his little planning matter.” This, he says, was a reference to his application to put a conservatory on his family home in the Midlands: a typical “non-newsy, low-level thing” that played its part in making him “start to think like a conspiracy theorist”.
[hackgate] Murdoch Scandal’s New Top Cop … a profile of Sue Akers – the head of the Police phone hacking investigation … ‘She was one of the first female cops to carry a weapon and the fifth woman in Scotland Yard history to lead a borough. Through her years on the force, she earned an aura of a lone ranger, beholden to no one. “She didn’t hitch herself to anyone’s star,” says her former boss, Brian Paddick, now a politician and the Liberal Democrat candidate for mayor of London in 2008. Before she took on the phone-hacking investigation, Akers had become London’s top gang cop and was known to broker no nonsense, even from her bosses. “She’s the kind of cop who wouldn’t give you a break if you parked on the double line,” says one person closely involved in the phone-hacking case.’
[hackgate] What’s in a Name? … How did Operations Elveden and Weeting get named? ‘To Norfolk people Eleveden is a notorious bottleneck on the A11, the main road into and out of the county. You can, literally, queue for miles and for hours to get through Elveden in either direction. It is a place notorious to Norfolk for frustration, obstruction and never getting anywhere.’
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In police inquiries, the most sensitive moment is generally considered to be when those involved start to turn on one another. James Murdoch and the then News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks had turned on Crone and Myler – particularly the long-serving Crone – in their testimony.
As one of his former top executives—once a close aide—told me, “This scandal and all its implications could not have happened anywhere else. Only in Murdoch’s orbit. The hacking at News of the World was done on an industrial scale. More than anyone, Murdoch invented and established this culture in the newsroom, where you do whatever it takes to get the story, take no prisoners, destroy the competition, and the end will justify the means.”
Then – in 1995 – Murdoch begins to change. He decides he likes Tony Blair and tells [Woodrow] Wyatt he may support him at the coming election. Wyatt can’t believe it. He had thought that Murdoch would always support the Conservatives.
And then Murdoch does something worse. He tells the editor of the News of the World to cut back on the column that he had allowed Wyatt to write every week.
Wyatt is in despair. There is a wonderful moment in the diaries when Wyatt sleeps all night on the floor of his study next to the phone waiting for Murdoch to ring.
Media pundits say the News of the World’s seven million-strong readership will now divide into those who will spend the rest of their lives washing their hands 300 times a day and those who will continue to enjoy stories about fucking.
Wayne Hayes, media analyst at Donnelly-McPartlin, said: “At this stage it’s anyone’s guess, though one does have to question the commercial impact of Guardian readers boycotting the News of the World.
“Nevertheless I am sure those Guardian readers will cancel their Sky subscriptions the very moment the second series of Boardwalk Empire finishes sometime next year.”
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