Murdoch 'personal fiefdom' legal settlement totals $139m

News Corp's total costs arising from the hacking scandal mushroomed yesterday as it reached a $139m settlement with rebel US shareholders.

The claim was filed in September 2011 when shareholders accused News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch of using the company as his "personal fiefdom" – despite the fact that he is a minority shareholder.
The legal claim was brought by a group of US shareholders including the Amalgamated Bank, the Central Labourer's Pension Fund and the City of New Orleans Employees' Retirement System.
It was prompted by News Corp's decision to pay £615m for Elisabeth Murdoch's TV production company Shine in March of that year – but it also made wide-ranging allegations of wrongdoing by Rupert Murdoch and the News Corp board culminating with the phone-hacking scandal.
The action stated that the News Corp board "has not lifted a finger to engage in any oversight of Murdoch's role…even when it was presented with clear and unmistakable warnings that News Corp's business practices were not only unethical but also illegal…"
It also said Rupert Murdoch has been allowed to "siphon value away from News Corp and its shareholders for the benefit of Murdoch, his family and his friends".
As part of the settlement,  News Corp is understood to have agreed to tighten oversight and set up an anonymous hotline for whistleblowers to report misconduct. The settlement is understood to be covered by insurance.
It follows news last week that Neil and Christine Hamilton and former TV presenter John Leslie had all received susbtantial damages and costs after having their phones hacked by the News of the World.
Political adviser Matthew Doyle also received a sum in damages, his legal costs and an apology and the High Court heard that the estate of the late Jade Goody, the reality TV star who died of cancer in 2009, and TV producer Nigel Lythgoe had also settled their hacking claims.
Some 149 out of 167 phone-hacking legal claims lodged in court have now been settled, with a further eight more set to be added.

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