Murdoch contrite as more evidence revealed


MEDIA mogul Rupert Murdoch has responded to police claims that The Sun newspaper had a “culture of illegal payments” to “a network of corrupt officials” with a vow that those practices were in the past.
The officer in charge of investigations into phone hacking and bribery by journalists, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, on Monday told the Leveson inquiry into media ethics that The Sun had some public officials “on retainers”.
One official received more than £80,000 ($A118,500) over several years and one journalist was given more than £150,000 to pay sources, she said.
Also on Monday:
■The inquiry heard of an email that showed police leaked information about their investigation of the News of the World to a News executive;
■The email showed Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson knew hacking was rife in 2006, despite denials for years afterwards;
■Singer Charlotte Church and her family won £600,000 from News International in the largest hacking payout to date.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Akers said payments were authorised at a senior level and emails indicated journalists recognised it was illegal. “There is also an indication of ‘tradecraft’, ie. hiding cash payments to sources by making them to a friend or relative of the source.” She said most of the disclosures made as part of the system were “salacious gossip, not what I would describe as remotely in the public interest”.
Mr Murdoch issued a statement saying: “As I’ve made very clear, we have vowed to do everything we can to get to the bottom of prior wrongdoings in order to set us on the right path for the future . . . The practices Sue Akers described . . . are ones of the past and no longer exist at The Sun.”
Robert Jay, QC, told the inquiry an email written by a News International executive showed the then editor of The Sun, Rebekah Brooks, received detailed leaks about the police investigation into hacking at the News of the World in 2006. The email, written on September 15 by head of legal affairs Tom Crone to News of the World editor Andy Coulson, said police had learned that more than £1 million had been paid for voice hacking and that there were at least 100 victims, but they had no direct evidence of journalists hacking voicemail.

First published in The Age.