U.K. Tabloid Scandal: 'Lapping At The Door Of No. 10 Downing St.'

Jul 18, 2011

Catching up on the scandal that doesn't stop in the U.K.:

"An intensifying voicemail hacking and police bribery scandal cut closer than ever to Rupert Murdoch and Scotland Yard on Sunday with the arrest of the media magnate's former British newspaper chief and the resignation of London's police commissioner.

"Though the former executive, Rebekah Brooks, and the police chief, Paul Stephenson, have denied wrongdoing, both developments are ominous not only for Murdoch's News Corp., but for a British power structure that nurtured a cozy relationship with his papers for years." (The Associated Press)

On Morning Edition today, NPR London correspondent Philip Reeves said that the latest developments have underscored the claims that "have long been swirling about an improper relationship" between Scotland Yard and the now-defunct News of the World tabloid that has been at the center of the storm. It's alleged that News of the World investigators bribed police officials to get information about perhaps thousands of people — from the royals to murder victims.

And Philip said the weekend's news also has the scandal "lapping at the door of No. 10 Downing St." — the official home of the prime minister.

That's because when Stephenson stepped down, in part because he had once hired a News Corp. executive who since has been implicated in the scandal, the Scotland Yard chief pointed out that Prime Minister David Cameron had previously hired another of Murdoch's former editors — from News of the World — to be his communications chief.

In essence, Philip said, Stephenson was saying to Cameron "look, I've taken responsiblity; what about you?" Also complicating matters for Cameron: he is a friend of Brooks, the News Corp. editor arrested Sunday.

Today, Cameron "called for an emergency session of parliament to brief lawmakers on a spreading phone hacking scandal," the AP writes. Tuesday, Murdoch, his son James and Brooks are to be questioned by members of Parliament about what News Corp.'s U.K. newspapers are said to have done.

NPR's David Folkenflik is due to have more about the story on today's All Things Considered.

Meanwhile, one of News Corp.'s properties in the U.S. — The Wall Street Journalargues in an editorial today that "our competitor-critics ... want their readers to believe, based on no evidence, that the tabloid excesses of one publication somehow tarnish thousands of other News Corp. journalists across the world."

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