News Corp Has One Eye on Costs, Another on Hacking Lawsuits
No one enjoys having their phones tapped: The U.S. National Security Agency knows this and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA) found this out, as well. The media conglomerate’s United Kingdom branch has been forced to settle hundreds of lawsuits over the past three years thanks to a 2011 phone hacking scandal. And while the lawsuits themselves are nothing new for the News Corp.-owned News of the World, new hacking-related lawsuits keep cropping up. Already in 2014, 32 have filed lawsuits seeking to participate in a June civil trial, according to Bloomberg, and a hearing took place Friday in London to discuss the new claims.
Over the course of three years, investigations uncovered both bribery and phone hacking at two of News Corp.’s tabloid publications. In 2006, reporters at the News of the World used private investigators to illegally gain access to the voicemails of hundreds of individuals who were of interest to the publication. The most recent string of lawsuits included claims from singer Craig David; designer Kelly Hoppen, who is the stepmother of actress Sienna Miller; and former soccer player John Fashanu. Previous civil trials were avoided by last-minute settlements.
The allegations of voicemail hacking began in November 2005, after News of the World printed a story about a knee injury sustained by Britain’s Prince William, and just over a year later, News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were convicted of conspiracy to hack into phone voicemails of the royal family. Subsequently, more employees of News of the World became implicated in the scandal as more voicemails were found to have been hacked, leading to an eventual apology from the paper and the creation of a victim compensation system.