Phone Hacking Scandal Revisited


James Murdoch still lives in the shadow of the phone-hacking scandal at his British newspapers.



Scandal fatigue over phone-hacking at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World was already setting in last summer when London and then Birmingham and Manchester exploded in riots. When the ongoing euro zone crisis reached critical mass it was almost completely forgotten.

But it has been jostling its way back into the news. One of the key points in the scandal is did James Murdoch, Rupert's youngest son and heir apparent and head of his father's business interests in Britain, know about the scale of phone-hacking going on at the paper?  The younger Murdoch denied any knowledge of the specifics except in one case where he authorized a payment to one of the victims.

The parliamentary committee investigating phone-hacking said there was an e-mail contradicting Murdoch's claim. The former editor of the paper, Colin Myler, and News International's former chief legal counsel, Tom Crone, both disputed Murdoch's claim as well. They were the ones who had sent him that e-mail.

Never saw it, said Murdoch.

Since the summer, the police have been sifting through thousands of archived News International e-mails. Earlier this month they came across the one in question.

Murdoch had indeed seen it. But in a written statement to the committee he said, "I am confident that I did not review the full email chain at the time or afterwards."

One can almost believe him. You know the story: you get dozens, if not hundred of e-mails a day. After a while you check subject line, scan the first sentence, say yadda-yadda to yourself, and move on to the next one.

This is not a smoking gun. The scandal will not reclaim the public interest anytime soon.