The shuttering of the News of the World, the perpetrator of the most shocking privacy violations in a recent scandal enveloping the British media, has not ended the publicity disaster facing Rupert Murdoch’s News International. Now other members of the British newspaper conglomerate, a wing of Murdoch’s giant News Corp., are being accused of attempting to illegally obtain information about former prime minister Gordon Brown. Allegedly, tax paperwork obtained through a hack against his accountant’s office was passed from News of the World to a sister paper. A worker for the Sunday Times once posed as Brown to get private information from his bank, and another scored files from his lawyers. And it has been known for some time now that medical records for his son, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, were also obtained and published by the London Sun.
That’s just part of today’s ugly news for Murdoch: It was also reported that NotW tried to hack into the phones of 9/11 victims. And shareholders who filed an unrelated $675 million class-action suit against Murdoch back in March have updated their case to include news of the hacking scandal that shuttered NotW. In this week’s Newsweek, journalist Carl Bernstein wonders if this ever-expanding scandal could be Rupert Murdoch’s Watergate.
So far Murdoch is still standing behind News International boss Rebekah Brooks, who headed up NotW during some of the worst of the alleged hacking incidents, and who was editor of the Sun when the Browns’ medical records were published. As Bernstein notes, Murdoch is famous for protecting his own in exchange for tight-lipped loyalty. If he hangs Brooks out to dry and that protection comes into question, who knows what else might be revealed?
News International papers targeted Gordon Brown [Guardian UK]