The new Sunday edition of Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper sold 3.26 million copies when it debuted in the UK yesterday, according to the News Corp chief’s Twitter feed. Yet the most interesting new development involving the tabloid is a charge today that came from Sue Akers, the deputy police commissioner overseeing investigations into alleged illegal practices by journalists. Akers told the Leveson Inquiry into UK media ethics that there “appears to have been a culture at The Sun of illegal payments” to police officers as well as members of the military, the government and other public organizations. (The Sun is controlled by the News Corp-owned News International.) According to The Guardian, Akers suggested there was a “network of corrupted officials” that journalists at The Sun could call upon and that one official received more than $126,500 (£80,000) over several years. Following Akers’ testimony, Murdoch gave the following statement: “She said the evidence suggested such payments were authorised by senior staff at The Sun. 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. That process is well under way. The practices Sue Akers described at the Leveson inquiry are ones of the past, and no longer exist at The Sun. We have already emerged a stronger company.”
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Scotland Yard has informed Hollywood music agent Julie Colbert that her cell phone calls were intercepted because she represented Welsh pop star Charlotte Church. The WME tenpercenter who works for music clients in film and television was back and forth between Los Angeles and London when the hacking occurred, my insiders say. That’s because, at the time, Church was working closely with the crossover agent and even staying as a guest in Colbert’s home for several months to get away from the paparazzi constantly trailing the singing sensation. ”Scotland Yard told Julie, ‘Your number came up as one of the ones that was hacked,” an insider tells me. I understand that Colbert hasn’t decided yet whether to file a claim because of the hacking. That might prove touchy because her agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment does a lot of business with News Corp subsidiaries like Fox Broadcasting, Twentieth Fox TV, and the Fox Filmed Entertainment Group.
No information was provided Colbert exactly who did the hacking: News Corp’s journalists or private detectives. But Bloomberg reported earlier today that Glenn Mulcaire, the former News Corp private detective who hacked phones for the company’s News Of The World, had an unidentified WME agent’s numbers as well as Charlotte Church’s New York publicist Kevin Chiaramonte of Paul Freundlich Associates among thousands of pages of notes seized by police. That agent, I’ve learned, was Colbert.