Monday, July 18, 2011

News of the World Drama Continues

Problems continue to surface from the phone hackings that were conducted by News of the World. Just this past weekend, London police chief Sir Paul Stephenson resigned and former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks was arrested.

Brooks was arrested a mere two days after she resigned as the chief executive of News International. The company had published News of the World until it had been forced to fold due to the hacking scandal. According to ABC News, Brooks was arrested in London on suspicion of both corruption and conspiring to hack the cell phones of crime victims and celebrities. From 2000 to 2003, Brooks was an editor at News of the World. She then moved up to being an editor for The Sun, and there she remained until she was promoted to her position with News International in 2009.

"I have believed that the right and responsible action has been to lead us through the heat of the crisis," Brooks said in a Friday statement. "However, my desire to remain on the bridge has made me a focal point of the debate."

So far, News Corp. has not released a statement concerning Brooks’ arrest; however, they have named her successor, the CEO of Sky Italia, Tom Mockridge.

It was earlier this month that News of the World was accused of hacking into the cell phone of a murder victim while her disappearance was still being investigated. Allegedly, whoever hacked into the young woman’s phone deleted voicemail messages. This gave her parents a false hope that she was accessing her phone and therefore was still alive.

There were also reports that the company had hacked into the phones of individuals who were affected by the July 2005 London terrorist bombings, as well as the phones of celebrities.

This was not the first time that News of the World was caught hacking into individuals' cell phones. Several years ago, the newspaper was punished for phone hacking. The incident even led to a debate in the House of Commons, allegations surrounding bribery of the police and talk of shutting down the newspaper entirely.

All of the media attention that has surrounded the recent events is what Metropolitan police chief Stephenson claims prompted his resignation.

"Let me state clearly, I and the people who know me know that my integrity is completely intact. I may wish we had done some things differently, but I will not lose sleep over my personal integrity," he said in a Sunday statement. "Nevertheless, I must accept that the intense media coverage, questions, commentary and indeed allegations, as demonstrated by this weekend's attempt to misrepresent my arrangements for my recovery from illness, not only provide excessive distraction both for myself and colleagues but are likely to continue for some time."

"This is not a 12 months that can afford any doubts about the Commissioner of the Met," he concluded.

Recently, Stephenson has been scrutinized for his hiring of former News of the World executive Neil Wallis as a consultant. Stephenson claims that he did not have any idea that Wallis had anything to do with the phone hacking scandal.

"I have heard suggestions that we must have suspected the alleged involvement of Mr. Wallis in phone hacking. Let me say unequivocally that I did not and had no reason to have done so," Stephenson said. "I do not occupy a position in the world of journalism; I had no knowledge of the extent of this disgraceful practice and the repugnant nature of the selection of victims that is now emerging; nor of its apparent reach into senior levels. I saw senior figures from News International providing evidence that the misbehavior was confined to a rogue few and not known about at the top."

Stephenson and Brooks are not the only people who have been affected by the scandal and have been forced to resign from their positions. Just last week, Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton also resigned. "That I was ignorant of what apparently happened is irrelevant and in the circumstances I feel it is proper for me to resign from News Corp. and apologize to those hurt by the actions of News of the World," Hinton said in a statement. is news of, for and by SMBs! The Small & Medium Business Magazine!

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