Senator John D. Rockefeller IV
United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
I am writing to you by virtue of your role as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation and this Committee’s interest in the conduct of News Corporation. I am also copying this letter to Senator Patrick Leahy in his capacity as Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary which I understand oversees matters relating to the Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act.
I attach to this letter a transcript of a meeting that took place earlier this year in the offices of News International Limited, a subsidiary of News Corporation. The meeting records the exchanges between Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corporation, and employees who had been arrested or were otherwise under investigation by the UK Metropolitan Police. As you will be aware this police force has been investigating alleged criminal conduct by News International (or its subsidiary News Group Newspapers) employees relating to phone hacking and corrupt payments by journalists to public officials.
The transcript reveals Mr Murdoch’s approach to the alleged criminality within his organisation. It also reveals how his employees claim that they were simply doing what was expected of them and that they had continued a practice of paying public officials that had been going on for decades. Mr Murdoch’s replies, in my view, demonstrate a significant level of knowledge of the practice and a shocking contempt for the police investigation into it. Perhaps even more sinister is his confirmation that his organisation will “hit back” at the police because of their investigation.
No doubt you will read the entire transcript and come to your own conclusions.
It has been my view from the outset that the most senior executives within News Corporation should be held responsible and called to account for the wrongdoing of the UK journalists and other employees of its subsidiaries. It is Rupert Murdoch who is most responsible for the culture in his organisation. We now know more of his attitude towards, and knowledge of, the culture of corruption in his UK newspapers (and, he alleges, across his competitors) and his condemnation of the police’s attempts to route it out. Having had this revealed, I would encourage the authorities both in the UK and US to ensure that their investigations into News Corporation are not inhibited in going to the very top, notwithstanding the power and influence wielded by Mr Murdoch.
If I can assist you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me.