News Corp. (NWSA:US) journalists and a private investigator employed by the company’s News of the World tabloid made 6,813 calls targeting 282 voice mails during 2005 and 2006, according to billing data analyzed by police.
More than 4,700 of the calls were made from the newspaper’s own phones by journalists, Detective Constable Richard Fitzgerald said at the London phone-hacking trial today. Convicted private eye Glenn Mulcaire attempted to hack 87 voice mails a total of 1,450 times in the same period, he said.
Former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, are two of seven people at the trial charged with a range of offenses related to hacking, bribing public officials and destruction of evidence. The prosecution’s case is nearing the end after more than three months of argument.
Clive Goodman, the tabloid’s ex-royal reporter also on trial for bribery, targeted 14 voice-mail numbers in the 12 months to August 2006 from his home phone number, Fitzgerald said.
Rupert Murdoch, chairman of New York-based News Corp., closed the News of the World in July 2011 after the discovery that the newspaper accessed the voice mails of a murdered schoolgirl years earlier. Mulcaire, who was convicted of phone hacking in 2007, pleaded guilty to more interception charges last year.
The trial is expected to last until mid-May when the jury will retire to consider its verdict, Judge John Saunders said today.
“This is an important case for all concerned,” Saunders said to the jury. “We have to get through to the end, you and I.”
Notes from a January 2010 meeting between News Corp. U.K. executives and lawyers revealed the wrangling over a civil settlement with celebrity publicist Max Clifford, Andrew Edis, a prosecution lawyer said today.
Brooks discussed the possibility of Clifford being paid 200,000 pounds ($326,260) a year to represent News Corp.’s best-selling Sun daily tabloid in an effort to get him to drop the civil hacking claim, Edis said reading from the notes.
Clifford was, at the time, attempting to force Mulcaire to reveal who he dealt with at News Corp. through a civil court order.
“You have to think about what is worse,” one executive said in the 2010 meeting, according to the notes read out by Edis. “Her doing a deal with Max, which will be perceived as a cover-up, or indemnifying Mulcaire so he doesn’t say anything about” the company.
Clifford won the court order to force Mulcaire to reveal who instructed him to intercept the voice mail of Nicola Phillips, who worked for the publicist, and to say what information he obtained. Mulcaire appealed the decision all the way to the U.K. Supreme Court, losing in July 2012.
Brooks said it would “look terrible” if the company was seen to be “buying off” Clifford, according to the notes of the meeting.
A settlement was reached with Clifford according to correspondence between News Corp. and the publicist’s lawyers without an amount being specified.
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