Bloomberg News

Police Probing News Corp. Settlement With Clifford, Brooks Says

December 07, 2011

Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- British police investigating illegal activities at News Corp.’s now defunct News of the World newspaper are reviewing the tabloid’s 2010 settlement of a phone hacking case brought by publicist Max Clifford.

Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive officer of News Corp.’s U.K. unit, told lawmakers in a letter released today that the settlement was part of the police probe.

“I am still being investigated by the police,” Brooks, who was arrested in July, wrote in a letter to Parliament’s Culture Committee. “One of the matters being investigated is the Max Clifford settlement, and I was questioned by the police on this issue in July.”

Brooks resigned as News International CEO shortly after revelations in July that the paper had hacked into the phone of a murdered school girl. Clifford was one of the first phone- hacking victims to reach a settlement with the company over allegations reporters illegally accessed voice-mail messages for stories.

Under the settlement, Clifford agreed to work with the paper for two years on a 200,000 pound-a-year ($314,000) retainer, Linklaters LLP, a U.K. law firm representing News Corp.’s Management and Standards Committee, said in a separate letter to the committee also released today. His costs of 283,000 pounds, plus sales tax, were also met. Linklaters said it had given all the documents to the police, who were concerned that releasing too much information might prejudice further inquiries.

Coulson Case

Separately, Andy Coulson, the ex-News of the World editor who resigned in January as U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s press chief, told a judge today that News Corp. should pay his legal bills in a case over phone hacking.

Coulson, who was also arrested in July, sued the company on Sept. 22 over claims it breached his severance agreement by refusing to pay his legal costs.

London police investigating phone hacking today also arrested a 41-year-old man in connection with the probe. The unidentified man was detained on suspicion of conspiring to intercept voice-mail messages and “perverting the course of justice,” the Metropolitan Police said today in a statement. The man was Glenn Mulcaire, the private detective at the center of the phone-hacking scandal, Sky News reported.

Police have made 16 arrests this year as part of the Operation Weeting phone-hacking probe.

--Editors: Anthony Aarons, Peter Blumberg

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net.


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