Timeline: Phone hacking scandal hits News Corp

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 19, 2011 8:34 AM
Timeline: Phone hacking scandal hits News Corp

(Reuters) - Here is a timeline of events in the phone-hacking scandal since it emerged on July 4 that murdered schoolgirl, Milly Dowler's, phone was hacked.

The ensuing outrage prompted News Corp to close the 168-year-old News of the World and drop a $12 billion plan to take full control of pay TV operator BSkyB.

Former News International Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks, a Murdoch protege, was also arrested in the probe.

July 4 - A lawyer for the family of Dowler, murdered in 2002, says he learned from police that her voicemail messages had been hacked, possibly by a News of the World investigator, while missing, deleting messages and raising false hopes she could be alive. Police later say they have contacted the parents of two 10-year-old girls killed in the town of Soham in 2002.

July 5 - News International says new information has been given to police. The BBC says it related to emails appearing to show payments were made to police for information and were authorized by Andy Coulson, former editor of News of the World.

-- The list of those possibly targeted includes victims of the London suicide bombings of July 7, 2005, and the parents of Madeleine McCann, who disappeared in Portugal in 2007.

July 6 - Prime Minister David Cameron says he is "revolted" by the allegations.

-- Rupert Murdoch appoints News Corp executive Joel Klein to oversee an investigation into the hacking allegations.

-- UK's Daily Telegraph says News of the World hacked the phones of families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

July 7 - News Corp announces it will close down the News of the World. The July 10 edition was the last.

July 8 - Cameron announces two inquiries, one to be led by a judge on the hacking scandal, another to look at new regulations for the British press. Cameron says he takes full responsibility for employing Coulson as his spokesman, defending his decision to give him a "second chance."

-- Coulson is arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and suspicion of corruption. He is bailed until October.

-- The News of the World's former royal editor, Clive Goodman, is re-arrested in connection with a police operation looking at alleged payments to police by journalists at the paper.

-- Police search the offices of the Daily Star tabloid where Goodman freelanced. The paper is not part of News Corp.

July 10 - Rupert Murdoch arrives in London.

July 11 - Murdoch withdraws News Corp's offer to spin off BSkyB's Sky News channel, previously made to help win approval of its bid for the 61 percent of BSkyB it does not own. This opens the way for the government to refer the BSkyB bid to the competition commission which will carry out an investigation.

-- Allegations surface that journalists at News Corp papers targeted former PM Gordon Brown. Police confirm to Brown that his name was on a list of targets compiled by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

July 12 - John Yates, assistant commissioner at London's Metropolitan Police, criticized for deciding in 2009 not to reopen the earlier inquiry, tells the Home Affairs Committee he probably did only the minimum work required before deciding.

-- In the United States, John Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate's commerce committee, calls for an investigation to determine if News Corp has broken any U.S. laws.

July 13 - News Corp withdraws its bid for BSkyB. This pre-empts a planned vote in parliament, that had all-party support, on a motion for the bid to be dropped. The company statement leaves the door open to a new offer at some point.

-- Tom Crone, legal manager at News International, leaves the company, a source familiar with the situation says.

-- Cameron gives details of a formal public inquiry into the affair, to be chaired by senior judge Brian Leveson.

-- News Corp's Australian arm launches investigation to see if any wrongdoing took place at its editorial operations.

July 14 - Rupert Murdoch eventually accepts request by parliament to answer questions on July 19 over the alleged crimes. His son James Murdoch says he will appear. Brooks agrees to appear, says police inquiry may restrict what she can say.

-- The FBI says it will investigate allegations News Corp hacked into phone records of victims of September 11 attacks.

-- Rupert Murdoch tells the Wall Street Journal, part of his empire, that News Corp handled the crisis "extremely well in every way possible," making only "minor mistakes." Says his son James acted "as fast as he could, the moment he could."

July 15 - Brooks, former News of the World editor, resigns as chief executive of News International - she had become CEO in June 2009. Tom Mockridge, CEO of the company's Italian pay TV arm Sky Italia, will replace her.

-- Les Hinton, who told parliament in 2009 that any problem with hacking was limited to one case, resigns as chief executive of Murdoch's Dow Jones & Co., which publishes the Wall Street Journal.

July 16/17 - A direct apology from Rupert Murdoch is carried in all UK national newspapers under the headline "We are sorry."

July 17 - Detectives arrest Brooks on suspicion of intercepting communications and corruption. She is released on bail at midnight after about 12 hours in police custody.

-- Paul Stephenson, London's police commissioner, resigns after coming under fire over the appointment of Neil Wallis as public relations adviser to the force. Wallis, a former News of the World deputy editor, was arrested on July 14.

July 18 - Cameron, on a shortened visit to Africa, defends his handling of the scandal and says parliament will delay its summer recess to let him address lawmakers on July 20.

-- Yates resigns over his role in phone hacking probe.

-- Former News of the World journalist Sean Hoare is found dead at his home near London. Hoare told the New York Times that phone hacking at the tabloid was far more extensive than the paper had acknowledged at the time.

July 19 - Stephenson and Yates are due to appear before parliament's home affairs committee.

-- Rupert and James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks will also face questions from parliament's Culture, Media and Sports committee.