DeadlineNow Morning Report: UK Hacking Verdicts, UTA Sues ‘Unforgettable’ Star, ‘American Idol’ Judges Return (Video)
Avon Pension Fund and others who owned News Corp stock from mid-February to mid-July 2011 charged in the class action suit that Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch, former News Of The World editor Rebekah Brooks, and other execs at News Corp (before it split into two companies) committed fraud when the UK hacking scandal was unfolding. They told the public — including in testimony at Parliament — that it was just an isolated problem, and it wasn’t. When the widespread extent of the hacking became known in mid-2011, News Corp shares fell 17%, and it derailed the company’s plan to buy British Sky Broadcasting. But a U.S. District Court in New York dismissed the case today, Reuters reports. The problem? Judge Paul Gardephe said that the News Corp execs couldn’t be held liable for statements made before the period when the plaintiffs said that they lost money.”To hold otherwise would require adopting an ‘endless breach argument,’ which would permit plaintiffs to circumvent the well-settled rule that defendants are liable only for those statements made during the class period,” Gardephe says.
Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News International (now News UK), took the stand for the first time today in London’s long-running phone-hacking trial. This was Brooks’ first time in the witness box since the criminal trial stemming from the phone-hacking scandal at the now-shuttered News Of The World began in October. After nearly four months, prosecutors rested their case this week and the defense is just beginning. According to local media reports, the presiding judge, John Saunders, instructed jurors that Brooks is to be found not guilty on one of the five counts against her. She was acquitted on the single charge of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office related to payments The Sun allegedly made for a picture of Prince William wearing a bikini at a costume party. “There is no case to answer for Mrs Brooks” on the charge, the judge said. The Guardian reports he told the jury his decision was “a matter of law.” He did not provide further detail, but The Associated Press reports Saunders said there was “considerable uncertainty” about the photo’s provenance. The photo was taken when William, now the Duke of Cambridge, was at Sandhurst Military Academy and Brooks was editor of The Sun.
Global Showbiz Briefs: New Revelations In Phone-Hacking Scandal; Claire Danes To Host Nobel Peace Prize Concert; More
Hacking Trial Lawyer: Brooks And Coulson Had 6-Year Affair
The phone-hacking trial taking place in London was the source of new revelations Thursday as prosecuting attorney Andrew Edis told jurors that defendants Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson carried on a six-year “secret” affair from 1998-2004. Brooks is the former head of News International (now News UK), the British press arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, and Coulson was editor of the now-closed News Of The World before leaving to join Prime Minister David Cameron’s team as his communications director. As part of his opening remarks, Edis stressed that he was not bringing up the relationship between Brooks and Coulson, which the prosecution said was evident from a letter to Coulson that was found on one of Brooks’ computers, to intrude on their privacy or pass judgment. “The point that I’m going to make in relation to that letter is that over the relevant period, what Mr Coulson knew, Mrs Brooks knew too. And what Mrs Brooks knew, Mr Coulson knew too — that’s the point.” He told the court the affair spanned the period covered by the phone-hacking conspiracy charges the pair is facing, according to The Times. “Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson are charged with conspiracy,” Edis said, “and, when people are charged with conspiracy, the first question a jury has to answer is how well did they know each other? How much did they trust each other?” At the time of the letter in 2004, Brooks was editor of The Sun and Coulson was at NOTW.
On October 14, Rupert Murdoch tweeted: “Big media trials in London in 2 weeks. Remember, everyone innocent until proven guilty, entitled to fair trial in most countries.” Murdoch was referring to the criminal trial related to phone hacking at his now defunct News Of The World tabloid. This morning, eight defendants including former Murdoch employees Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson made it to court amid a media frenzy for what some are calling the “Trial of the Century.” It may feel like a century once the proceedings wrap sometime around Easter 2014 and after an expected 100 witnesses have been called. Jury selection began today with the prosecution starting later in the week.
While Murdoch, Brooks and Coulson are no longer linked professionally, the outcome of the trial has the potential to impact the mogul’s business going forward. Even the News Corp-owned Wall Street Journal wrote that the courtroom drama “could further embarrass both the media giant and the British government.” One of the lines of questioning during the Leveson Inquiry into UK media ethics, the probe hatched by Prime Minister David Cameron in the wake of the News Of The World scandal, focused on the relationships between politicians and newspaper proprietors and editors. With Brooks and Coulson now standing trial, this could put News Corp’s relationship with the UK government back into the spotlight. Brooks was head of News Corp‘s UK press arm, News International (now News UK), until the phone-hacking scandal first exploded at the News Of The World in July 2011. She has denied the five charges against her including conspiracy to hack phones, conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office by paying officials for stories, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Coulson was formerly editor of News Of The World. He went on to become Cameron’s spin doctor, a post he vacated in 2011. He is facing three charges related to phone hacking and conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. They are joined by six other defendants who have all pleaded not guilty, including Brooks’ husband Charlie, a longtime Cameron friend.
In the wake of revelations of a secret recording of Rupert Murdoch addressing staff at his Sun tabloid, the UK’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport in July invited the mogul to discuss the matter at an official hearing. (The comments inlcuded Murdoch talking about his company’s handling of bribery and hacking charges at his UK newspapers.) Murdoch accepted the invitation, but no date was set at the time given the impending summer recess. Now it looks as though Murdoch’s appearance could be postponed by as much as a year. According to The Guardian, the hearing was shelved after the attorney general and Murdoch’s own lawyers intervened. With criminal trials about to begin in relation to the activities of News Corp’s UK press arm, News International (now News UK), there was a consideration on both sides that any testimony could prejudice those proceedings. Eight defendants go to trial on October 28, including former Murdoch lieutenant Rebekah Brooks. A further three trials are scheduled, with the last expected in June 2014. The Guardian says that Murdoch wrote to the committee this week saying lawyers advised him not to submit to questioning until all the criminal trials were finished. Committee chair John Whittingdale confirmed receipt of the letter and said, “At the same time, the committee received its own advice that there was a risk that any questions might prejudice the trials. …
Global Showbiz Briefs: Rebekah Brooks Pleads Not Guilty; Screen Media Brings ‘Paris’ To US; ‘Thirteenth Tale’ To BBC Two
Rebekah Brooks Pleads Not Guilty To Multiple Charges
Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News International, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to criminal charges stemming from her tenure at the company. Brooks entered her plea at the Southwark crown court in London today. She has been charged with various offenses under three separate investigations that were convened following the phone-hacking scandal at the News Of The World tabloid. According to reports, she pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiring to hack phones and conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office by paying officials for stories. She also entered a not guilty plea on two charges connected to conspiring to pervert the course of justice. Several other defendants, including Brooks’ husband, also pleaded not guilty to charges leveled at them. Brooks is expected to stand trial in September.
Screen Media Imports French Thriller ‘Paris Countdown’
Screen Media Films has acquired U.S. rights to French crime thriller Paris Countdown, the directorial debut of writer Edgar Marie. An October theatrical release is planned with VOD available in September. Olivier Marchal and Jacques Gamblin star as co-owners of a Paris nightclub who are lured into a drug deal that goes bad. Tortured by police, they negotiate their freedom while their liaison goes to prison. Six years later, the nightmare begins again when the psychopath is …
Former Rupert Murdoch lieutenant Rebekah Brooks and former News Of The World editor Andy Coulson appeared in a London court today on charges of allegedly conspiring to bribe public officials. While both of their cases were adjourned to another date, according to BBC News, four others pleaded guilty to selling information to the News Corp.-owned Sun tabloid. Two former police officers, an ex-prison officer and a public official (who was not named for legal reasons) are the first to plead guilty to misconduct in a public office under Scotland Yard’s three linked investigations into illegal acts by journalists. Brooks, formerly chief of News Corp. press arm News International, and Coulson, also both face charges in the phone-hacking investigation. The provisional trial date is September 9 this year.
Meanwhile, in a bit of good news for News International, The Times and Sunday Times were awarded nine UK Press Awards on Thursday night, including Newspaper of the Year and Scoop of the Year for The Times and Sports Team of the Year for the Sunday Times. Occasional Twitter user Murdoch sent out a few missives about politics yesterday, but there was no shout out for the wins.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Sony LondonTV Deal, Rebekah Brooks Severance, Jimmy Savile Crimes, Berlin Film Mart
Sony Backs UK Consortium Bidding For LondonTV License
A group known as the Channel 6 Consortium has announced that Sony Pictures Television Networks in the UK has agreed to support LondonTV, the Consortium’s proposed local channel. There are currently 6 groups bidding for the license that regulator Ofcom will grant by February 2013. Under the agreement, SPT Networks will be a program schedule provider and deliver creative services for LondonTV in the event of a successful bid. SPT Networks’ UK advertising partner would also handle all advertising sales for LondonTV. The consortium is backed by London newspaper groups Archant, Tindle and Trinity Mirror. LondonTV’s mission is to produce thousands of hours of high quality local news and current affairs programming on an annual basis. Sony’s involvement would add series and films. Chief exec of the Channel 6 Consortium, Richard Horwood, said Sony’s “expertise in the multichannel sector will significantly strengthen LondonTV from the outset.” SPT Networks already operates Sony Entertainment Television and Sony Movie Channel in the UK.
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.
Rebekah Brooks And Andy Coulson Will Face Criminal Charges Over Alleged Payments To Public Officials
Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson are already facing criminal charges in relation to the phone-hacking scandal that has rocked News Corp.‘s UK press arm, News International. Today, Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said it would also level criminal charges against former News International chief Brooks and former News Of The World editor Coulson in relation to Operation Elveden, the investigation into alleged corrupt payments by newspapers to police officers and other public officials. Former Rupert Murdoch lieutenant Brooks was editor of The Sun newspaper from 2003-2009 and later became head of News International. Prosecutors today said they had concluded that Brooks, along with ex-Sun reporter John Kay and Ministry of Defence employee Bettina Jordan Barber, “should be charged with a conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office between 1 January 2004 and 31 January 2012. This conspiracy relates to information allegedly provided by Bettina Jordan Barber for payment, which formed the basis of a series of news stories published by The Sun. It is alleged that approximately £100,000 was paid” to Barber between 2004 and 2011.”
The amount — equal to more than $11.2M using today’s exchange rate — includes cash and pension payments as well as an allowance for legal fees and a chauffeur-driven car, the Financial Times reports, citing “two people with knowledge of her compensation.” But the former News International chief, at the center of the company’s hacking and bribery scandals, shouldn’t spend it all: There are unspecified conditions under which the company can reclaim some funds — so-called clawback clauses that one person says are “substantial.” Rebekah Brooks joined News International in 1989. The UK government has charged her with three counts of alleged phone hacking, including a general charge that could affect as many as 600 victims including celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. She also faces three counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Her trial is provisionally scheduled to begin September 9, 2013.
Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and other former journalists from the now-shuttered News Of The World tabloid were in a London court today to face charges related to the phone-hacking scandal. After a short hearing at the Old Bailey court, a provisional trial date was set for September 9, 2013. Brooks, the former chief exec of News Corp.’s UK press ar News International, is accused of three counts of alleged phone hacking, including a general charge that could affect as many as 600 victims including celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. She also faces three counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
David Cameron will become the first sitting UK Prime Minister to appear on The Late Show With David Letterman when he stops by for Wednesday’s show. In New York to give a keynote speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Cameron will use the slot to “bang the drum for British business” as he attempts to keep the country basking in the Olympics afterglow. The British press is having fun at the prospect with The Times calling it a “high-risk move” and The Guardian surmising it’s “brave, if slightly foolhardy” given Letterman’s ability to ask “awkward” questions. London Mayor Boris Johnson appeared on The Late Show in June and almost came up short when the host asked the famously disheveled politician how long he’d been cutting his own hair. A Downing Street aide told The Times that Cameron’s interview “will certainly have some light-hearted parts.” Perhaps not so light-hearted if Letterman queries the PM on his cozy relationship with some of the folks involved in the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal: Both his former communications director, Andy Coulson, and his neighbor, Rebekah Brooks, are set to appear in court Wednesday on charges related to the scandal.
Embattled ex-News International chief Rebekah Brooks appeared in a London court this morning for 4 minutes to provide her name, home address and date of birth. She was in the dock at the Westminster Magistrates Court on charges of phone hacking that were lodged against her last month and was given conditional bail. The bail stipulates she can’t contact her six former colleagues who are facing similar charges, the she must reside at her home address and that she give a week’s notice if she intends to leave the country, UK media reports.
In early August, Rupert Murdoch’s former lieutenant was formally charged on three counts of alleged phone hacking. One was a general charge that could affect as many as 600 victims including celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.
It’s expected to amount to the biggest single revelation of alleged phone-hacking victims. Prosecutors are preparing to announce the names of up to 600 people related to a criminal case against former News Of The World staffers. High-profile names already to surface include Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Sadie Frost, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Within weeks, however, the public face of the list will grow, according to The Independent. Expected to come to light are the names of more actors along with pop stars and politicians, the newspaper reports. Police are said to be contacting hundreds of people to let them know.
Andy Coulson and six other former News Of The World journalists appeared in a London court this morning on phone hacking charges relating to their time at the now defunct paper. The group were given a preliminary hearing date of Sept 26. That’s the same day that former News International chief exec Rebekah Brooks is expected to have a plea hearing on charges of perverting the course of justice amid the investigation into phone hacking at the News Corp-controlled tabloid. Coulson – who was also the former press secretary to UK prime minister David Cameron – and the other journalists have each been charged with conspiring to intercept the voice mails of well-known people and/or those associated with them. Those well-known people include Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Sadie Frost, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Earlier this month, Brooks, who has been arrested twice, was officially charged with phone hacking and will appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on that charge on Sept 3.
Former News Of The World Editors To Face Phone-Hacking Charges; Alleged Victims Include Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Jude Law
Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News Corp‘s News International and a one-time editor of the News Of The World, will face charges in connection with phone-hacking, Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service announced this morning. Andy Coulson, the former News Of The World editor who went on to be Prime Minister David Cameron’s communications director, will also face charges. Along with a group of former News Of The World journalists, they are each charged with “conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority, from 3rd October 2000 to 9th August 2006. The communications in question are the voicemail messages of well-known people and/or those associated with them,” said the CPS. Those well-known people include Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Sadie Frost, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. In all, there are more than 600 people whom the prosecution will say are victims of the offense. Brooks is specifically facing charges relating to the alleged hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s mobile phone as are a number of the other former journalists. The full list of charges can be read here. In total, eight people learned they would be charged today, while the CPS found insufficient evidence in the case of three other suspects. Decisions regarding two other suspects were deferred.
Eight months of testimony are finally winding down at the Leveson Inquiry into UK media ethics. The panel, convened in the wake of the phone hacking scandal at the News Corp-controlled News Of The World, heard again today from Metropolitan police deputy commissioner Sue Akers. Akers has been leading the probes into alleged illegal activities by journalists including phone and computer hacking and bribery. In February, she told the inquiry there appeared to be “a culture of illegal payments” at News Corp’s The Sun newspaper. Today, she said police had determined that public officials, including a high-security prison guard, have received payments from more than one newspaper, expanding the field to those owned by Trinity Mirror and Express Newspapers along with News Corp’s News International. (In Express chief Richard Desmond’s earlier statement to the inquiry, he said he was unaware of any such activity at his papers.) When Akers appeared in February, News Corp said the practices she’d described were “ones of the past.” Akers confirmed today to Lord Justice Brian Leveson that there has been a change in the culture and practice of News International. Akers also told the inquiry that News Corp’s internal Management and Standards committee has proffered significant