National Post

NEWS CORP. IN CLEAR OVER HACKING

- By Anthony Aarons

N-ews Corp. won’t face char ges over the phone- hacking scandal, bringing to a close m- ore than four years of scan d- als and probes at the com pany’s U.K. unit.

The Crown Prosecutio­n Service said Friday there was no evidence that anyone on the board knew about the intercepti­on of voice- mail messages. The decision comes almost a year and a half after the former editor of its largest U.K. newspaper was convicted of intercepti­ng voice- mail messages.

News Corps. . K. publishing unit was battered in 2011 by allegation­s of wrongdoing, which sparked criminal and judicial probes into the press. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the News of the World, then the country’s biggest- selling newspaper, and scuttled a planned takeover of what was then known as British Sky Broadcasti­ng Group Plc in a bid to contain the scandal.

“Phone hacking has come to a conclusion without any repercussi­ons for any of these acts,” said Alex De Groote, a media analyst at Peel Hunt in London. “The storm erupted two- to- three years ago and now it’s petered out.”

Prosecutor­s also said they would drop investigat­ions into 10 journalist­s at the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror, r- ival tabloids owned by Trin ity Mirror Plc. Piers Morgavn, a former top Mirror editor who went on to host a nightly CN- N talk show, said on Twit ter the decision validated his statements that he had never h- acked a phone nor told any one to do so.

“-I’m now going to get spectacula­rly drunk,” Morgan said on Twitter. “Happy Christmas.”

Andy Coulson, a former aide to U. K. Prime Minister David Cameron and an editor of the tabloid, was the only News Co- rp. journalist con victed of hacking by a jury. At least seven others pleaded guilty to the charges.

The scandal was largely triggered by the discovery in July 2011 that journalist­s at the News of the World in 2002 had hacked into the phone of a missing teenager, Milly Dowler, who was later found murdered. Even before that, however, police had opened probes that would eventually lead to the arrest of dozens of journalist­s at News Corp. publicatio­ns for intercepti­ng voice mails and bribing public officials.

T- he saga reached a cre scendo last year when jurors convicted Coulson on a single count, but cleared Rebekah Brooks and four others of all c-harges related to phone hack ing, bribery and destructio­n of evidence. Brooks, a former editor of the Sun and News of the World newspapers, was the chief executive officer of News Corp.’s U. K. unit when the Dowler allegation­s were made.

The company has been w- orking to move past the al legations in recent months, reinstalli­ng Brooks, one of the key figures in the scandal, as News Corp.’s top U. K.- execu tive.

News UK- said in a state ment that the prosecutor­s’ decision allows it to focus on journalism.

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