More Legal Troubles For News Corporation

Britain’s Channel 4 is reporting that the legal troubles for News Corporation and its subsidiaries are getting worse:

First there was the Metropolitan Police investigation into phone hacking. Then it was an investigation into the payment of police officers for information.

But now, and potentially most concerning to Newscorp shareholders, the focus has moved to the company finances. Channel 4 News has learnt that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is making preliminary inquiries into News International.

Investigators are looking at many cases involving News International to establish whether a full formal investigation is required.

The former minister Tom Watson, wrote to the SFO’s Director urging him to investigate alleged breaches of Company Law at News International, relating to payments made after the phone hacking scandal. He said the payments were a “gross misuse of shareholders’ money”.

Mr Watson’s letter raised questions about the secret payments made to hacking victims.

An SFO investigation would appear to be similar to an investigation here in the U.S. by the Securities And Exchange Commission, and the specific allegations involve misuse of corporate funds in the payment of hush money to hacking victims and bribes to public officials. This side of the investigation could prove to be an even bigger headache for the Murdoch than the hacking investigation itself because it could lead to similar investigations, and possibly shareholder lawsuits, elsewhere in the world. Murdoch is already facing a major shareholder derivative lawsuit in Delaware over the company’s purchase of an entity owed by his daughter Elizabeth and, just last week, and Rebekah Brooks’s fate was sealed when News Corp.’s No. 2 shareholder said she had to go.

A shareholder revolt at News Corporation is not beyond the realm of possibility, especially as the company’s stock continues to fall.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. But, I thought that that there was nothing more to see here and that we should move on to more serious matters.

  2. legion says:

    Well, there’s a pretty interesting article in the NYT today, pointing out that News Corp has paid out almost 2/3 of a billion dollars in recent years, just in out-of-court settlements. This doesn’t include under-the-table payments that never get reported. in 2010, News Corp paid a full $500 million to one company to shut down one lawsuit and cover a previously-awarded $300 mil settlement – fully 20% of NC’s entire net income that year.

    I think Murdoch’s shareholders might be _very_ interested in where their money is being spent…

  3. Barry says:

    “An SFO investigation would appear to be similar to an investigation here in the U.S. by the Securities And Exchange Commission,…”

    Which would be run by people who were recently (or soon to be) defense lawyers for similar parties, whose interest would be in making purely nominal cases against petty offenders, to be settled for sums which amount to ‘the cost of doing business’?

  4. Q. Bones says:

    Okay, I know that this is conspiracy-theory-esque — and does not negate the activities of Murdoch’s News Corp. — but I can’t help but smell the hands of George Soros in all of this. After all, it is a resurrected two year old scandal. Many allegations have been thrown around, but as of now that’s all most them are. We are being barraged by the fog of allegation.

    If one knows the bad blood between Soros and Murdoch, then this should come as no surprise.