July 18, 2011
The people involved in the Murdoch phone hacking scandal keep falling faster and harder and, as is often the case in such situations, are turning on each other.
- As I expected, the head of Scotland Yard Sir Paul Stephenson has resigned because of charges that he accepted gifts from Murdoch's cronies and did not aggressively pursue the hacking case. In his resignation letter he aimed a parting shot at prime minister David Cameron's close association with former News of the World editor Andy Coulson. Cameron has hit back.
- The assistant commissioner of Scotland Yard David Yates, who had effectively shut down the original investigation into the hacking claims, has also resigned.
- Stephenson and Yates and other senior Scotland Yard officers are to be the subjects of yet another inquiry.
- One of the other senior police officers to be investigated is another former assistant commissioner Andy Hayman who led the original phone hacking investigation in 2006 and later became a columnist for Murdoch's The Times, another example of the incestuous relationship between the police and News Corp.
- Sean Hoare, a former News of the World employee who first blew the whistle about rampant phone hacking at that paper and alleged that Andy Coulson, former editor of News of the World and later a close aide and confidante to David Cameron, knew about it all along, has been found dead at his home.
- News International's former head Rebekah Brooks has been arrested and is out on bail but will apparently still appear with Rupert and James Murdoch before a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
- Prime minister David Cameron has cut short a trip to Africa to return home to help plan the judicial inquiry that he was forced to initiate into the phone hacking.
- Cameron also said that parliament, which had been due to go on a six-week recess at the end of Tuesday, will likely now come back on Wednesday to debate the scandal.
- Now in major damage control mode, News Corp has initiated its own internal inquiry into what happened at the News of the World. This is one inquiry we can probably safely ignore.
- Murdoch is 'lawyering up' with some heavy hitters in the US, following reports that the FBI has opened an investigation. The hacking of actor Jude Law's phone in the US could be a key issue but merely the one that gets the ball rolling. As Felix Salmon points out, there are plenty of other odious News Corp practices in the US that will emerge once the spotlight is turned on them.
- What is going to really hurt Murdoch is that the stock price of News Corp is sliding globally. Ultimately this is what he really cares about since a low price makes him vulnerable to shareholder anger and the possible ouster of him and his family members.
Things are moving really fast.