It was announced tonight that the FBI will investigate News Corporation over claims the families of 9/11 victims were targeted by phone hackers. The news from across the pond comes at the end of yet another day of dramatic developments in the phone hacking story.
Earlier, Murdoch and his son refused to answer the request, showing contempt for Parliament and further tarnishing their already battered reputations. There are fears, however, that the trio will remain silent.
The solicitor for Milly Dowler’s family, Mark Lewis, likened the three to the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” monkeys, playing dumb, refusing to apologise and claiming they didn’t know anything.
• A ninth person was arrested by the police investigation into the scandal, Neil Wallis, a former executive editor at the News of the World – yet the arrest of Wallis raises further questions for the police themselves.
Wallis worked as a PR consultant for Scotland Yard, and dined with Sir Paul Stephenson and John Yates, earning £1,000 a day for two days a month from October 2009 to September 2010 – a total of £24,000.
• As a result of these revelations, Met Commissioner Sir Paul was tonight hauled before London Mayor Boris Johnson for a 90-minute meeting to explain himself.
• Nick Clegg laid out his plan for reforming the media, the three pillars being press freedom, accountability and plurality.
On the breaking news of the FBI investigation, Associated Press report:
A law enforcement official says the FBI has opened an investigation into allegations that media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. sought to hack into the phones of Sept. 11 victims.
The official spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly… The FBI’s New York office hasn’t commented. There’s been no response from News Corp. or to a message left with the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan.
On Monday, the Mirror revealed:
It was claimed [by a former New York cop] [that] 9/11 victims may have had their mobiles tapped by News of the World reporters. He alleged he was contacted by News of the World journalists who said they would pay him to retrieve the private phone records of the dead.
Now working as a private investigator, the ex-officer claimed reporters wanted the victim’s phone numbers and details of the calls they had made and received in the days leading up to the atrocity.
A source said: “This investigator is used by a lot of journalists in America and he recently told me that he was asked to hack into the 9/11 victims’ private phone data. He said that the journalists asked him to access records showing the calls that had been made to and from the mobile phones belonging to the victims and their relatives.
“His presumption was that they wanted the information so they could hack into the relevant voicemails, just like it has been shown they have done in the UK. The PI said he had to turn the job down. He knew how insensitive such research would be, and how bad it would look.”
News Corp shares have plunged 3.3 per cent in the wake of the news of the FBI investigation, which was initiated after a number of senators and politicians had called for action having been “horrified” by the Mirror report. If the allegations are proved, News Corp will have broken numerous US laws and they will face prosecution.