If media mogul Rupert Murdoch thought that closing The News of the World, Britain’s largest-circulation newspaper, would keep the cops and the press and British politicians from investigating the phone-hacking conspiracy and cover-up that seems to get worse with each day…well, he was wrong.
The abrupt closing at the World — which sold more than 2 million copies every Sunday, and delivered its last issue earlier today — was widely seen as a move to protect former editor Rebekah Brooks and News Corp heir James Murdoch, and possibly brush the scandal away. (Of course, firing hundreds of aggressive tabloid journalists — and making them angry — to deal with a press scandal is a little like disbanding the entire Iraqi army to bring stability to a country.) It probably won’t work: this past week’s arrest of ex-editor and top government official Andy Coulson has emboldened Labor Party politicians who had previously been unwilling to attack the once absurdly influential Murdoch.
Not only is Murdoch’s big, multi-billion purchase of the BSkyB satellite television company at risk — his son, James, a U.S. citizen, could be slapped with American criminal charges. The Guardian points out that recently reported payments to British police officials could violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act:
The 1977 Act generally prohibits American companies and citizens from corruptly paying – or offering to pay – foreign officials to obtain or retain business.
The Butler University law professor Mike Koehler, an FCPA expert, said: “I would be very surprised if the US authorities don’t become involved in this [NI] conduct.”