Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is in trouble.
After a scandal force him to close the News of the World, London’s bestselling tabloid, Murdoch’s newspaper crown jewel could be next.
The Sunday Times, which has been around since 1785, is now caught up in the hacking scandal that allegedly saw Murdoch’s investigators for several publications probing personal records of ordinary people as well as powerful figures.
The Sunday Times is the broadsheet paper that is read most throughout the United Kingdom so its involvement is big news.
Stories in competing publications say The Sunday Times could have been hacking Prince Charles and Princess Camilla’s phone. Other Royals such as Kate and William, and Royals as big as The Queen have allegedly been warned they, too, may have been victims of News International misdeeds.
The Guardian reported today that “it is now believed the News of the World paid a total of £130,000 to between three and five police officers for information” about the royal family – information it said could have jeopardized the security for Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and others.
On Sunday, Murdoch himself arrived in London. He was seen seated in a dark red Range Rover, reading a copy of the last edition of News of the World.
Murdoch, the owner of Fox News and the New York Post, later had a meal with the company’s embattled chief executive officer, Rebekah Brooks, who edited the News of the World at the time it hacked the phone of a missing teenager who later turned up dead.
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s phone records may also have been hacked as well as medical information related to his son’s cystic fibrosis.
“The sheer scale of the data assault on Brown is unusual, with evidence of attempts to obtain his legal, financial, tax, medical and police records as well as to listen to his voicemail. All of these incidents are linked to media organisations. In many cases, there is evidence of a link to News International,” The Guardian reported today.
Brooks was the editor of The Sun, another Murdoch tabloid, when it obtained medical records about Brown’s son.
Sarah Brown, the ex-prime minister’s wife, sent out a Twitter that said she felt “so sad to learn all I am about my family’s privacy – it is very personal and really hurtful if all true #notw et al.”
All of this has made Murdoch’s name “mud” for many, especially given the fact that he is competing to own British Sky Broadcasting, whose shares have dropped as the scandal spread.
Debates are taking place in Parliament about whether any investigations should be carried out. The Labour and Liberal Democrat parties are pushing to keep Murdoch’s hands off British Sky Broadcasting entirely in the wake of the scandal.
What will happen next is uncertain. But Murdoch, 80, is likely to be in the headlines for a long time to come.