A Labour MP who won a £30,000 damages claim from News International has called on the FBI to investigate Rupert Murdoch after the media mogul admitted that he knew about illegal payments to the police.
Chris Bryant said that the US authorities should charge Murdoch following the release of a secret recording in which the 82-year-old told reporters at The Sun that paying off public officials was part of “the culture of Fleet Street”.
- October 8, 2009
The Telegraph has reported that Bryant believes the revelation should be enough to spark a fresh investigation in the US into how much Murdoch knew about the use of the practice in his newspapers.
He said: “American law is much tougher than UK law; you don’t have to prove that a director knew it [that payments were made].
“The mere fact that a company engaged in paying public officials is enough to bring a body corporate charge… the charge can be brought because the directors did not have a governance system in place to stop it.”
Bryant’s comments were echoed by the lawyer representing a number of victims of phone-hacking.
Mark Lewis told the Guardian: “No doubt the FBI will be very interested in comments that suggest a senior director of a company was fully aware of payments to foreign officials. As far as the US claims are concerned, this raises further evidence of knowledge at the highest levels of News Corp of unlawful activities.”
Yesterday, another Labour MP, Tom Watson, called on UK police to re-open its investigation into Murdoch.
A News UK spokesman maintained that Murdoch did not know about any payments to the police from Sun journalists, and a statement from News Corp said the chairman was simply displaying ‘understandable empathy’ with reporters who had been arrested.