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‘We are sorry,’ Murdoch tells U.K. in full-page ad
Hague said Cameron had invited Coulson to Chequers “to thank him for his work, he’s worked for him for several years, that is a normal, human thing to do.”
Cameron said last week that the relationship between politicians, the media and the police in Britain had grown too close and must be changed.
Murdoch began his apologies Friday as he met with the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, whose phone was hacked by the News of the World in 2002. The revelation that journalists had accessed her phone in search of scoops while police were looking for the missing 13-year-old fueled an explosion of interest in the long-simmering scandal. The 80-year-old mogul said “as founder of the company I was appalled to find out what had happened and I apologized.”
The phones of celebrities, royal aides, politicians and top athletes are also alleged to have been hacked, and police are investigating whether victims of London’s 2005 terrorist bombings and the families of dead British soldiers were among the tabloid’s targets.
The scandal claimed its first casualty among Murdoch’s U.S. executives Friday when Hinton announced he was stepping down immediately as publisher of the Wall Street Journal and chief executive of Dow Jones & Co.
In New York, Tom Bray, chairman of a Dow Jones special committee formed to monitor editorial integrity, called the matters “deeply concerning.”
“To date, nothing has come to our attention that causes us to believe that the resignation of Les Hinton as publisher of the Journal is in any way related to activities at the Wall Street Journal or Dow Jones or that any of the London offenses or anything like them have taken place at Dow Jones,” he said.
The 67-year old Hinton, a staunch ally who has worked for Murdoch for more than half a century, was chairman of Murdoch’s British newspaper arm during some of the years its staffers are alleged to have hacked into cell phones. Still, he had testified to a parliamentary committee in 2007 and 2009 that he had seen no evidence that abuses had spread beyond a single jailed reporter, Clive Goodman.
Hinton said Friday that “the pain caused to innocent people is unimaginable.”
“That I was ignorant of what apparently happened is irrelevant,” he said.
Murdoch’s British lieutenant, Brooks, also stepped down Friday, saying her status as “a focal point of the debate” was interfering with “our honest endeavors to fix the problems of the past.” Tom Mockridge, the head of Sky Italia, was installed to replace Brooks.
The departure of Brooks and Hinton increases pressure on 38-year-old James Murdoch, chairman of BSkyB and chief executive of News Corp.’s European and Asian operations. James Murdoch, his father Rupert and Brooks all face questioning Tuesday by a U.K. parliamentary committee investigating phone hacking and police bribery.
Lawmakers want to quiz James Murdoch about what he knew when he approved the News of The World’s 2008 payment of 700,000 pounds ($1.1 million) to halt legal action by one hacking victim, Professional Footballers’ Association chief Gordon Taylor. Several other hacking targets, including actress Sienna Miller, also received payments from the tabloid.
James Murdoch said last week that he “did not have a complete picture” when he approved the payouts.
British police are also under pressure to explain why their original hacking investigation failed to find enough evidence to prosecute anyone other than Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. Detectives reopened the investigation earlier this year and now say they have the names of 3,700 potential victims.
By John R. Bolton
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