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Dow Jones Chief Executive Les Hinton speaks during the World Business Forum in New York in this October 5, 2010 file photo.
Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson/Files
By Kate Holton
Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:10am EDT
LONDON (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch's former lieutenant, Les Hinton, is set to appear for a second time before a powerful British parliamentary committee to answer questions about the phone hacking scandal that forced his resignation.
The recall for Hinton, who worked with the News Corp boss for more than half a century, will reignite the scandal at a time when the media group is working to move on by announcing donations to charity and the departure of staff.
Hinton resigned in July at the height of the drama as it emerged that people working for the News of the World tabloid had hacked the phones of people ranging from celebrities to crime victims in search of exclusive stories.
He is likely to face tough questions when he appears before the committee on October 24 as part of its investigation into how the criminal activity continued unchecked at the paper, then Britain's most popular Sunday tabloid, for such a long time.
The debonair executive appeared before the Parliament Select Committee in 2009 to answer questions about the scandal. He also went before it in 2007 to discuss wider press issues, but took questions too on allegations about hacking.
In 2007 Hinton told the committee the company had carried out a "full, rigorous internal inquiry" into the use of illegal phone hacking and he was "absolutely convinced" the practice was limited to a single reporter.
Since then, however, further investigation by the committee has revealed that that single reporter wrote a letter to Hinton just days before he appeared before the committee, telling him that phone hacking was widespread throughout the paper.
Hinton is the most senior News Corp executive to be damaged by the scandal so far.
He was executive chairman at News Corp's parent, News International, at the time when much of the hacking was alleged to have occurred and moved on to run the New York-based Dow Jones & Co., another arm of Murdoch's empire.
Two lawyers involved in the scandal will appear before the committee on October 19.
News of Hinton's recall is likely to detract from the announcement earlier in the day that News International would donate to British and Irish charities 2.8 million pounds ($4.4 million) from sales of the last edition of News of the World.
Tom Mockridge, the new chief executive of News Corp, the group's British newspaper arm, said the money had been raised from the sale of 3.8 million copies of the paper's final edition in July.
He also announced that following the paper's closure, nearly 200 people had left the company and 65 members of staff were redeployed.
Mazher Mahmood, the investigative reporter dubbed the "Fake Sheikh," has moved to Murdoch's Sunday Times. Mockridge said 81 members of staff had taken the early-leaver option and around 100 were made redundant.
New International closed the tabloid in a bid to contain the crisis which had hammered News Corp's value and reputation.
The 2.8 million pounds will be donated to three UK-based charities while five charities in Ireland will split the profits from the Irish sale.
Many of the paper's staff said the hacking occurred before their time there and felt they had been fired to protect the reputation and jobs of senior managers. Several have since told Reuters they have had difficulty finding work because they had been employed by News of the World.
The National Union of Journalists has condemned the loss of jobs and criticized the paper's management.
"The systemic abuse and corruption at the News of the World came from the top of the operation," NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said in a statement on Tuesday.
"They have consistently tried to shield themselves from blame and they are prepared to shove everyone else out the door to save themselves. Putting scores of journalists on the dole represents another crass attempt to draw a line under the scandal."
($1 = 0.638 British Pounds)
(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Tim Pearce)
Related Quotes and News
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
This “donation” (or manoeuvre to buy his way out of legal action agaist his illegal activities) will probably be tax deducted as a charitable donation, thereby increasing his claimed $4.85 billion profit (from a claimed turn-over of $33.4 billion).
Why has he and his company not been formerly charged over the phone tapping? Because he has corrupted the very fabric of democratic governments around the world and our political leaders are too scared of him to prosecute.
Oct 11, 2011 9:48am EDT -- Report as abuse
If you want to read more about how the UK tabloids were involved in a Phonehacking story Cover Up in 1999 then visit http://www.hackergate.co.uk
Oct 11, 2011 10:45am EDT -- Report as abuse
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