The News Corporation website in New York is the corporate website for the holding Company that owns News International Limited which,  in turn, owns News Group Newspapers Limited which published the “News of the World” and continues to publish the “Sun”.  Despite the developments in the last few weeks, and the evidence of Rupert and James Murdoch before the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee, the News Corporation website still displays a statement dated 7 July 2009 criticising the reporting of the “Guardian” about phone hacking.

It is interesting to look at the statement just over two years later.   We reproduce the relevant parts without comment:

July 10, 2009 – News International has delayed making this detailed statement until all relevant facts have been analysed and checked internally and externally.

News International has completed a thorough investigation into the various allegations made since the Guardian story broke on Wednesday. This investigation augmented a similar process here following the arrest of private investigator Glen Mulcaire and News of the World journalist Clive Goodman in August 2006.

Perhaps more significantly, the police investigation into Glen Mulcaire and Clive Goodman began in 2005, nine months before the two men were arrested. Prior to arrest the police conducted live monitoring of both men’s activities and also kept the News of the World activity in this area under investigation. The raids on Mulcaire’s premises, on Goodman’s premises and on the News of the World office seized all relevant documents and all available evidence. The police investigation continued after the arrests and all relevant activity was studied and analysed in the context of identifying unlawfulness/criminality. The police investigation was incredibly thorough.

Apart from matters raised in the Mulcaire and Goodman proceedings, the only other evidence connecting News of the World reporters to information gained as a result of accessing a person’s voicemail emerged in April 2008, during the course of the Gordon Taylor litigation. Neither this information nor any story arising from it was ever published. Once senior executives became aware of this, immediate steps were taken to resolve Mr Taylor’s complaint.

From our own investigation, but more importantly that of the police, we can state with confidence that, apart from the matters referred to above, there is not and never has been evidence to support allegations that:

  • News of the World journalists have accessed the voicemails of any individual.
  •  News of the World or its journalists have instructed private investigators or other third parties to access the voicemails of any individuals.
  •  There was systemic corporate illegality by News International to suppress evidence.

It goes without saying that had the police uncovered such evidence, charges would have been brought against other News of the World personnel. Not only have there been no such charges, but the police have not considered it necessary to arrest or question any other member of News of the World staff.

Based on the above, we can state categorically in relation to the following allegations which have been made primarily by the Guardian and widely reported as fact by Sky News, BBC, ITN and others this week:

  • It is untrue that officers found evidence of News Group staff, either themselves or using private investigators, hacking into “thousands” of mobile phones.
  •  It is untrue that apart from Goodman, officers found evidence that other members of News Group staff hacked into mobile phones or accessed individuals’ voicemails.
  •  It is untrue that there is evidence that News Group reporters, or indeed anyone, hacked into the telephone voicemails of John Prescott.
  •  It is untrue that “Murdoch journalists” used private investigators to illegally hack into the mobile phone messages of numerous public figures to gain unlawful access to confidential personal data, including: tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemised phone bills.
  •  It is untrue that News Group reporters have hacked into telephone voicemail services of various footballers, politicians and celebrities named in reports this week.
  •  It is untrue that News of the World executives knowingly sanctioned payment for illegal phone intercepts.

All of these irresponsible and unsubstantiated allegations against News of the World and other News International titles and its journalists are false …”