BBC Hit With Civil Claims In Jimmy Savile Scandal
A lawyer acting on behalf of 31 victims of the late Jimmy Savile has lodged civil claims for compensation in the high court against the disgraced host’s estate and the BBC over allegations of sexual abuse. Attorney Alan Collins told The Guardian that all claims are against Savile’s estate with “seven or eight” against the BBC itself, which the suits allege has “vicarious liability” in the case. Another lawyer working on behalf of a further 62 victims told Bloomberg that the action was premature, because parties involved had agreed to wait for the results of the police investigation into Savile. “We do not believe the commencement of litigation at this stage to be either necessary or in our clients’ best interest,” she said. – Joe Utichi
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BBC Hit With Civil Claims In Jimmy Savile Scandal
UK House of Lords OKs Assistance For Victims Of Media Misbehavior
As David Cameron’s government in the UK continues to dither over what to do about the proposals made in the Leveson Report on the phone-hacking scandal, peers in the House of Lords — the UK parliament’s upper house — have passed an amendment to the Defamation bill establishing a cheap arbitration service between newspapers and those claiming to be wronged by the press. The proposal was a key feature of Leveson’s report. The cross-party amendment was spearheaded by peers including film producer Lord David Puttnam, who said lawmakers had an “obligation to act, and to be seen to act, on behalf of victims past, present and future”. The Defamation Bill, which has a key focus on complaints against alleged defamation published on the Internet, reflected none of the concerns brought to light by the Leveson Report, he said. “It is almost as if Leveson never happened.” The move marks a major rebellion against the government, with peers voting 272 to 141 in favour of legislation which would also introduce a statutory system for press regulation, a line Cameron had promised not to cross. The bill will go back before the House of Commons next month, forcing the Leveson debate back into the open.
Former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks wants her involvement in a U.S. class action suit over the phone hacking scandal dismissed. “The Complaint should be dismissed as to Brooks because Plaintiffs have failed to allege any facts to support a finding of personal jurisdiction over her,” says a motion (read it here) the ex-News Corp executive’s lawyers filed last week. Brooks, who was News International boss from September 2009 to July 15, 2011, is facing criminal charges in the UK in relation to the sprawling phone hacking scandal. A shareholder’s lawsuit launched Stateside on July 19, 2011 accuses Brooks, plus co-defendants Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Les Hinton, as having violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The Avon Pension Fund, Iron Workers Local Union No. 17 Pension Fund and Lewis Wilder’s class action claims that the executives concealed the “existence and extent of illegal and unethical newsgathering practices” at News International.
Attorneys representing News Corp investors asked a judge today to force the media company’s board face a lawsuit for a damaging phone-hacking scandal that occurred on their watch, Reuters reported, while company attorneys asked for the suit to be dismissed. Delaware Chancery Court Judge John Noble declined to say at the end of the three-hour hearing when he might rule. The company contends that board members should not be subject to second-guessing by shareholders. The shareholders say that CEO Rupert Murdoch and the board that includes two of his sons, should be held responsible for damage
Mark Lewis, the lawyer who has led the attack on hacking cases in the UK, has teamed with two New York law firms to represent at least four people, including one U.S. citizen, who may have had their privacy violated here by Rupert Murdoch-owned properties. If they decide to pursue the matter “I believe it will be taken seriously” by U.S. courts, one of the lawyers — Norman Siegel of Siegel Teitelbaum & Evans — said in a meeting with reporters today. ”These are serious issues.” Steven Hyman of McLaughlin & Stern is co-counsel. Lewis says the clients believe that their phones were hacked on U.S. soil between 2001 and 2006, and are named in notes of Glenn Mulcaire, the UK private investigator who cracked into people’s voicemail accounts for the Murdoch tabloid News Of The World. While the lawyers wouldn’t go into detail about their clients or plans, Lewis says that having U.S. lawyers may make it easier to question News Corp deputy COO James Murdoch, who recently moved to New York. “It becomes relevant to all sorts of issues,” he says. Lewis adds that none of the U.S. clients have cases in the UK that might be compromised by actions here.
BSkyB is now James Murdoch‘s lone remaining board membership after auction house Sotheby’s revealed in an SEC filing that News Corp‘s deputy COO won’t seek re-election to its board of directors. The filing, which said Murdoch will “focus on his core responsibilities” at News Corp, is the latest fall-out from the phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed the conglomerate in the UK since it broke open in July. Murdoch this year has also stepped down from his post atop News Corp’s UK newspaper division News International and departed the board at ClaxoSmithKline.
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.
The News Corp chief sought to reassure journalists at The Sun today by announcing his plan to launch a Sunday edition of the UK tabloid — and by offering to help the staffers who were arrested last weekend for allegedly paying cops for tips and information. “We are doing everything we can to assist those who were arrested — all suspensions are hereby lifted until or whether charged and they are welcome to return to work,” he said in a letter to employees. “News Corporation will cover their legal expenses. Everyone is innocent unless proven otherwise.” He added, though, that the company also will cooperate with a police investigation into the scandal and “will turn over every piece of evidence we find — not just because we are obligated to but because it is the right thing to do.” Sun staffers were prepared to revolt after learning that News Corp had provided police with evidence that led to the arrests. The paper’s Trevor Kavanagh likened the police actions to a “witch-hunt” and added in a column that “some of the greatest legends in Fleet Street have been held, at least on the basis of evidence so far revealed, for simply doing their jobs as journalists on behalf of the company.” Here’s Murdoch’s letter:
The UK lawyer who represented the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and other hacking victims is in “advanced stages” of preparations to sue News Corp in the States, The Independent reports. Staffers for attorney Mark …
Freelancer Cari Lynn is contributing to Deadline’s coverage.
Add the News Corp COO to the list of Big Media execs who believe that they were simply misunderstood in the debate that led Congress to put aside the Hollywood supported anti-piracy bills. “Clearly this got turned upside down, the whole issue,” he said at a conference sponsored by All Things D. Despite the claims of opponents, including those in the tech industry, the proposals empowering the government to block overseas Web pirates “isn’t about censorship…If they did it in the U.S., they’d be shut down. So they moved it offshore. You should still be able to shut them down.” He seemed to take a subtle dig at the MPAA for not making the industry’s case more effectively as opponents turned the issue into a populist crusade. ”If you look at what went on, you’d say that was not a process to replicate,” Carey says. The creative community didn’t ”anticipate the viral aspect and message getting twisted.”
British police have made what could turn out to be a high-profile arrest in conjunction with the phone-hacking scandal at News Corp’s former tabloid News Of The World. Metropolitan Police officers took a 41-year-old man into custody this morning in London who is believed to be private eye Glenn Mulcaire, a prominent figure in the ongoing investigation. Police said in a statement to the press that the man had been arrested “on suspicion of conspiring to intercept voicemail messages … and on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.” This is one of few of the 18 arrests in the case to include the latter charge. When contacted by Deadline, the Met said it could neither confirm nor deny the identity of the man and wouldn’t release a name until formal charges had been made. However, The Telegraph reports that neighbors of Mulcaire’s say they heard “something going on” at his house this morning.