A lot is being said of what laws News Corporation, its subsidiaries and directors/managers may or may not have breached in relation to the phone hacking scandal. In a recent story on the Guardian website it talks about what UK and US criminal charges that James Murdoch may face. (Click here to read)
One thing that can be certain based on the evidence at hand is that News Corporation and it’s directors have breached section 70.2 of the 1995 Criminal Code in Australia. That being “Bribing a foreign public official”.
For the evidence to support this we do not have to look any further than the big fat mouth of Rebekah Brooks (nee Wade), chief executive of News International. See the video below.
In the video Rebekah Brooks then known as Rebekah Wade openly admitted to paying police for information. This was in front of a British Parliament select committee in March, 2003. The person sitting beside her, Andy Coulson, interjected and quickly tried to cover it up. It must be noted that there is no way to pay the police within the law. It is bribery full stop. Andy Coulson was clearly lying. In the last few days Andy Coulson has been arrested on suspicion of phone hacking and corruption.
The test for whether or not News Corp and its directors can be charged with breaching section 70.2 of the 1995 Criminal Code is set out in Part 2.5—Corporate criminal responsibility, specifically sections 12.3 and 12.4.
In section 12.4 (3) it states:
(3) Negligence may be evidenced by the fact that the prohibited conduct was substantially attributable to:
(a) inadequate corporate management, control or supervision of the conduct of one or more of its employees, agents or officers; or
(b) failure to provide adequate systems for conveying relevant information to relevant persons in the body corporate.
Given that Rebekah Brooks openly stated in March 2003 that they had been paying police and that News Corp failed to take action and the practice continued after this then News Corp and its directors are clearly guilty of breaching section 70.2 of the 1995 Crimes Act.
There is obviously enough evidence to charge Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. I am not 100% sure, but I also think that back in 2003 James and Lachlan Murdoch were also directors of News Corp so they could also be charged along with the other directors.
The reason that News Corp and its directors can be charged under Australian Law is that News Corp was formerly incorporated in South Australia until a majority of shareholders approved a move on 12 November 2004 to the US. The company was re-incorporated under Delaware General Corporation Law in the US not long after this. Rebekah Brooks made her admission while giving her evidence in the video in March 2003.
It could be argued that even after the move to the US that News Corp and its directors are still accountable to Australian Laws as News Corp is dual listed. News Corporation is a publicly traded company listed on the NASDAQ, with secondary listings on the Australian Securities Exchange. So News Corp and its directors could also be liable for any bribes paid to the UK Police after their move to the US as well.
What News Corp have done is very similar to the current criminal proceedings against former staff of the Reserve Bank of Australia. The Reserve Bank of Australia via its wholly owned subsidiary Note Printing Australia and 50% owned Securency has been bribing overseas officials. Nine people have already been charged with more likely to follow. I will discuss this further in a posting that I am in the process of doing which I will post within the week.
Given the ducking and weaving that News Corp have been up to in relation to the phone hacking scandal in the UK it is worth having a look at some of the conduct by News Corp in Australia.
News Corp is the parent company based in the US. News International which Rebekah Brooks is chief executive of is the holding company for News Corp’s UK papers. In Australia the holding company for News Corps Australian papers is called News Ltd.
The Chairperson and CEO of News Ltd is the well-known perjurer John Hartigan. He committed perjury giving evidence in an unfair dismissal case against News Limited by the former Herald Sun editor Bruce Guthrie which News Ltd lost.
Bruce Guthrie has stated that he believes the real reason for his sacking was that he ran a story titled “Beverly Hills Cop” that was critical of the then Victorian police chief Christine Nixon who is a close friend of former News Ltd Chairwoman Janet Calvert-Jones. Janet Calvert-Jones is non other than Rupert Murdoch’s sister. The Murdoch’s seem to have close ties to police all over the world and News Corp executives seem to be habitual liars all over the world.
In a well-known court case in Australia called the C7 case in 2006/2007 this is what the judge Justice Sackville said in relation to the evidence given by News Ltd’s chief general counsel Ian Philip:
“gave the impression of a man who quite willingly subordinated his sense of ethics and propriety to a single-minded determination to advance the commercial interests of his employer”.
In announcing that would send a copy of his judgment to the Law Society of NSW, Justice Sackville said: “For a solicitor still holding a practising certificate to engage in deliberately dishonest conduct calls out for further inquiry by the authority responsible for professional discipline.”
“If News has taken no action against Mr Philip in respect of his admitted dishonesty, it would reflect very seriously indeed on News’ standards of commercial morality.”
John Hartigan took no action and said “Mr Philip continues to enjoy the full support of News Corporation management.”
News Ltd own a rugby league club in Melbourne called the Melbourne Storm. In 2010 they were found to have breached the salary cap over a number of years by millions of dollars. Even though the Melbourne Storm was 100% owned by News Ltd, John Hartigan and News Ltd said that knew nothing and had no idea that it was happening (Sounds familiar doesn’t it). The Melbourne Storm were ultimately stripped of a couple of premierships they had won while breaching the salary cap.
Rob Moodie, the former Chairman of the Melbourne Storm said at the time:
”Coming up against News Ltd isn’t easy. From my experience in health I’d compare their tactics to those of a tobacco company – they are just so powerful, they have so many resources and they can be very intimidating.
”I have been shocked by their approach to ethics.”
Update: New Post – The real reason Rebekah Brooks was forced to resign by News Corporation. (Click here to read)
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