Tags: Murdoch | Misled | UK | Parliament

Law Firm: 'Confused' Rupert Murdoch Misled UK Parliament

Tuesday, 16 August 2011 11:51 AM

Rupert Murdoch was “confused or misinformed” when he gave testimony to British lawmakers probing phone hacking by News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid, the company’s former U.K. law firm said.

The alleged confusion resulted in News Corp.’s chairman giving “inaccurate and misleading” statements about why the company’s U.K. unit hired Harbottle & Lewis LLP in 2007 when it was faced with phone-hacking claims, the firm said in a letter to parliament made public today. Murdoch had said he relied on the firm’s 2007 letter that he said gave News Corp. a clean bill of health.

Murdoch, who testified with his son James last month, may have confused Harbottle’s “narrow” focus on an employment lawsuit with that of BCL Burton Copeland, another firm that performed a nine-month review of potential privacy breaches at the News International unit, the firm said.

Harbottle & Lewis, based in London, “was not retained to provide News International with a ‘good conduct’ certificate which it could show Parliament, or anyone else, years after the event and for wholly different purposes,” the firm said in the letter. “Such use of its advice was expressly prohibited under its terms of engagement.”

A call to BCL Burton Copeland about its probe wasn’t immediately returned. News Corp. has declined to comment on the new letters published today.

Rebekah Brooks

Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which heard testimony last month from the Murdochs and former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks, sought new statements after conflicting comments were filed with lawmakers by other former executives. The scandal has led to News Corp.’s shuttering of the 168-year-old newspaper and forced it to abandon a 7.8 billion-pound ($12.8 billion) bid for the rest of British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc.

Jon Chapman, a former director of legal affairs at News International for eight years until he quit in June, said Harbottle & Lewis’s review of e-mails in 2007 was “limited in scope” and took place after the tabloid’s former royal reporter, Clive Goodman, sued for wrongful termination after being released from prison. Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire had been jailed for phone hacking.

Chapman and Daniel Cloke, the former head of human resources at News International, reviewed e-mails between Goodman and five others at the company at the request of Les Hinton, then the chief executive officer of the U.K. unit, before they were passed to Harbottle & Lewis.

Chapman and Cloke found “no reasonable evidence of knowledge by others of voice-mail interception in the e-mails reviewed,” Chapman said. “Neither Mr. Cloke nor myself, nor Harbottle & Lewis, were tasked with looking for evidence of any other potentially illegal activities in the 2007 e-mail review.”

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Rupert Murdoch was confused or misinformed when he gave testimony to British lawmakers probing phone hacking by News Corp. s News of the World tabloid, the company s former U.K. law firm said.The alleged confusion resulted in News Corp. s chairman giving inaccurate and...
Tuesday, 16 August 2011 11:51 AM
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