Could Phone Hack Mess Send Murdoch to Jail?

It's a stretch, but one analyst makes the case
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2011 2:10 PM CDT
Could Phone Hack Mess Send Murdoch to Jail?
Rupert Murdoch in a file photo from June.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Rupert Murdoch, who yesterday shut down the 168-year-old News of the World, faces the worst PR crisis of his six-decade career, reports the Washington Post. So far, the scandal is threatening to derail Murdoch's $12 billion bid for British Sky Broadcasting. It could even force Murdoch to testify before the British Parliament under oath. But as bad as things are, could Murdoch himself end up in jail? One analyst, writing in the Independent, thinks so.

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Andreas Whittam Smith explains that phone hackers were convicted under Britain's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, and he points readers to Section 79 of the act, which states that when a corporate body commits "an offense under any provision of this act ... with the consent or connivance of ... a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer, he (as well as the body corporate) shall be guilty of that offense and liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly." Perhaps Murdoch is a stretch, but observers think Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International and former editor at News of the World, could be in danger of criminal charges. Just like this former editor. (Read more News Corp stories.)

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