The Metropolitan Police has launched an investigation into the corporate responsibility of News UK over the phone-hacking scandal, it was claimed this weekend.
According to a report in The Independent, Scotland Yard has opened an “active investigation” relating to a possible corporate charge over the Rupert Murdoch-controlled group’s liability for the scandal, which resulted in the closure of the News of the World in 2011.
The Independent reports that News Corp, the then-parent company of News International (now News UK) – was warned by detectives that it was under investigation as early as May last year.
It claims that former deputy assistant commissioner at the Met, Sue Akers, wrote to the chairman of News Corp’s management and standards committee, Lord Grabiner, warning that there was “an active investigation into the corporate liability of News International”. Since then, it adds, three “senior figures” at the company have been cautioned and interviewed by detectives, including lawyer John Turnbull.
The paper quotes an analysis allegedly produced by News Corp in New York, that claims “46,000 jobs would be in jeopardy” if corporate charges were brought.
A number of senior executives at News International, including former chief executive Rebekah Brooks, are awaiting criminal trial over phone-hacking allegations, with proceedings due to start in September and expected to last several months.
According to The Guardian, Scotland Yard will not press corporate charges until the criminal trials have been concluded.
A News UK spokesman said: “We have co-operated with all relevant authorities throughout the process and our history of assistance is a matter of record in Lord Justice Leveson’s report.”