Rupert Murdoch's scandal-hit News International confirmed Tuesday it is reviewing journalistic standards across the company, a U.K. media empire that includes The Times of London newspaper.
The British newspaper arm of Murdoch's global empire has been shaken by widespread allegations of illegal behavior at the now-defunct News of the World tabloid, once Britain's most popular Sunday paper. More than a dozen News of the World journalists and executives have been arrested over claims that they systematically intercepted mobile phone messages and illegally paid police for tips.
Allegations of wrongdoing at other U.K. newspapers have since spread a cloud of suspicion over the entire U.K. media industry. The publishers of the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail, which both compete with Murdoch's papers, have announced their own, separate reviews of editorial procedure in the wake of the scandal.
In a statement, News International said its internal review was launched "a number of weeks ago" and was being carried out with the assistance of London law firm, Linklaters. It said the review was under the control of News Corp. independent director Viet Dinh and Murdoch advisor Joel Klein, both of whom have served as U.S. assistant attorneys general, as well as the company's management and standards committee.
News International is a wholly-owned subsidiary of News Corp.
The statement gave few further details, but a person familiar with the matter confirmed that the review would examine News International publications including the 226-year-old Times, its sister-publication the Sunday Times, and The Sun, Britain's biggest-selling daily.
The person, who requested anonymity because she wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said the news had been widely circulated internally in the last month.
Meanwhile an independent inquiry led by British judge Brian Leveson is preparing to put the country's press under the microscope.
A spokesman for the inquiry said he couldn't confirm a report in The Daily Telegraph that Rupert and James Murdoch will be called to testify, but noted that Leveson has wide powers to call witnesses. He also said Leveson was hoping to televise the inquiry's proceedings in the interests of transparency.
He spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with government policy.
Raphael G. Satter can be reached at: http://twitter.com/razhael