Phone-Hacking Scandal That Rocked News Corp.: TimelineAnthony Aarons, Jeremy Hodges and Robert Hutton
The phone-hacking scandal at News Corp.’s U.K. newspapers simmered for nearly five years before erupting on the national scene in July 2011 amid the discovery that journalists had hacked the phone of a murdered schoolgirl.
The scandal led to police probes and parliamentary investigations. More than 100 journalists and public officials were arrested over the course of three years, and News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch testified in front of lawmakers and a judge-led inquiry into media standards.
The company dropped a 7.8 billion-pound ($13.2 billion) bid for full control of British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc and closed the 168-year-old News of the World as it sought to contain public outrage.
Here is a timeline of the scandal.
Aug. 16, 2006: News of the World Royal Editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire appear in court on charges of intercepting telephone communications.
Jan. 26, 2007: Goodman sentenced to four months in prison after pleading guilty. Mulcaire sentenced to six months. Andy Coulson resigns as editor of News of the World.
March 6, 2007: Les Hinton, then chairman of News International, the News Corp. unit that published the News of the World, answers questions at a House of Commons Culture, Media & Sport Committee inquiry. He says he thought Goodman was the only person involved in phone hacking.
May 31, 2007: Coulson hired as communications director for Conservative Party leader David Cameron.
June 2007: News International pays an undisclosed amount to settle a case from Mulcaire, who is suing for unfair dismissal even though he was never on the News of the World staff, having had his contract terminated when he was jailed.
July 2007: News International pays an undisclosed amount to Goodman to settle an unfair-dismissal claim.
June 23, 2009: Rebekah Brooks, the editor of News Corp.’s Sun tabloid and a former editor of the News of the World is named chief executive officer of News International, effective Sept. 1. She is to report to Murdoch’s son James, CEO of News Corp.’s Europe and Asia unit.
July 8, 2009: Guardian newspaper publishes story saying News Corp.’s U.K. unit secretly paid more than 1 million pounds to settle phone-hacking lawsuit filed by Gordon Taylor, the CEO of the Professional Footballers’ Association.
July 9, 2009: London police say they won’t reopen probes into phone hacking following Guardian article.
July 16, 2009: Prosecutors say they also won’t reopen investigation. Previous charges in the case were “proper and appropriate,” the Crown Prosecution Service says.
July 21, 2009: Under questioning before Parliament’s Culture Committee, News of the World Editor Colin Myler says James Murdoch agreed to the payment to Taylor.
Sept. 2, 2009: Taylor’s lawyer, Mark Lewis, tells the Culture Committee that lawyers from News International threatened to get an injunction to prevent him from representing other alleged phone-hacking victims in lawsuits against the company.
Feb. 24, 2010: The Culture Committee says it’s “inconceivable” senior staff at News of the World weren’t aware of widespread tapping by its reporters. The panel says executives from the newspaper suffered “collective amnesia” during its inquiry. The company replies that the report has “materially diminished” the reputation of Parliament.
Sept. 1, 2010: New York Times publishes story on extent of phone hacking at News of the World.
Sept. 6, 2010: London’s Metropolitan Police says it will examine new evidence of hacking detailed in New York Times article.
Oct. 29. 2010: Actress Sienna Miller sues News Corp.’s U.K. unit and Mulcaire over phone hacking.
Dec. 10, 2010: Prosecutors say they lack evidence to file new hacking charges following New York Times article.
Jan. 21, 2011: Coulson resigns as press chief to Cameron, who’s now prime minister.
Jan. 26, 2011: London police open new phone-hacking probe after News International, under pressure from a growing weight of lawsuits, hands over a cache of documents.
April 5, 2011: News of the World Chief Reporter Neville Thurlbeck and former News Editor Ian Edmondson are arrested.
April 8, 2011: News International says phone hacking was more widespread than it previously acknowledged and that it will settle suits brought by victims.
May 3, 2011: Actor Jude Law, Miller’s former boyfriend, sues News International over phone hacking.
May 5, 2011: Former U.K. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott also sues News Corp.
May 13, 2011: Miller agrees to settle hacking lawsuit for 100,000 pounds.
July 4, 2011: Milly Dowler, a murdered schoolgirl, had her phone hacked in 2002, the Guardian reports. Cameron presses News Corp. to respond to the “really appalling” allegations.
July 6, 2011: Rupert Murdoch says the allegations of phone hacking and police payments by News of the World are “deplorable and unacceptable.” Police say documents provided by News International show payments might have been made to police officers.
July 7, 2011: News Corp. announces it will close down the News of the World.
July 8, 2011: Coulson is arrested.
July 9, 2011: Brooks says she had “no knowledge whatsoever of phone hacking in the case of Milly Dowler and her family, or in any other case during my tenure” in a letter to the chairman of Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee. Murdoch says Brooks has his “total” support.
July 12, 2011: Rupert and James Murdoch and Brooks are summoned to be questioned by Parliament’s Culture Committee on July 19.
July 15, 2011: Brooks resigns. Hinton, the former News International chairman, also steps down as CEO of News Corp.’s Dow Jones unit and publisher of the Wall Street Journal. Hinton started at News Corp. 52 years earlier at age 15.
July 17, 2011: Brooks is arrested. Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, resigns, citing “accusations” about his force’s links to a former News Corp. journalist arrested in the hacking probe.
July 18, 2011: John Yates, a Met assistant commissioner and Britain’s top anti-terrorism policeman, also resigns over his ties to the arrested journalist.
July 19, 2011: Rupert Murdoch denies any knowledge of phone hacking and payments to police during testimony to Parliament’s Culture Committee. He calls it “the most humble day of my life.” Testimony is interrupted by a protester attacking him with a shaving-cream pie.
Nov. 14, 2011: Leveson begins yearlong probe into media ethics.
Jan. 19, 2012: News Corp. settles 36 lawsuits filed by phone-hacking victims including Jude Law and soccer player Ashley Cole. Settlement amounts range from 5,000 pounds to about 100,000 pounds. For the 18 settlements outlined in court, payouts total at least 642,000 pounds plus legal fees.
Feb. 11, 2012: Five more staff at The Sun and three public officials are arrested as the police probe widens to include bribes by journalists to public servants outside the police force. The investigation, known as Operation Elveden, leads to more than 80 arrests.
April 26, 2012: Rupert Murdoch testifies to Leveson Inquiry. He blames employees and lawyers for covering up the crimes.
May 1, 2012: The Culture Committee says Murdoch is “not a fit person” to lead a major international company because he “exhibited willful blindness” to the extent of hacking at the News of the World.
May 15, 2012: Brooks, her husband, her former personal assistant and three others are charged with conspiring to hide evidence from police during the hacking scandal.
May 31, 2012: U.K. Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt testifies to the Leveson inquiry after criticism he was too close to News Corp. when he was in charge of regulatory scrutiny of the bid for BSkyB. He says he set aside personal preferences and relied on regulators when he took on the “quasi-judicial” role overseeing the deal.
June 14, 2012: Cameron tells Leveson Inquiry that the press and politicians have a “bad relationship.” Former Prime Minister Tony Blair testified two weeks earlier.
July 24, 2012: Brooks and Coulson are among eight former News Corp. journalists charged with phone hacking.
Nov. 20, 2012: Brooks and Coulson are charged over allegations that reporters The Sun and News of the World tabloids bribed public officials for information for stories.
Nov. 29, 2012: Leveson calls for independent media regulator in report following media inquiry. Most U.K. national newspapers refuse to sign up.
Oct. 29, 2013: Trial of Brooks, Coulson and five others starts in London.
Oct. 31, 2013: Prosecutors say Brooks and Coulson had a six-year affair that ended in 2004. They say the relationship is key to proving that the pair were part of a conspiracy to hack phones and bribe officials.
March 12, 2014: Brooks finishes 13 days of testimony. She says she never was aware of phone hacking at the News of the World and that prosecutors overstated the importance of her affair with Coulson.
March 31, 2014: Brooks’s husband, Charlie, testifies that he hid evidence from police to prevent them from finding his pornography collection.
April 29, 2014: Coulson completes about 10 days of testimony. He tells jury he knew of phone hacking only in “vague terms.”
May 14, 2014: Goodman says he hacked the phones of Princes William and Harry and Kate Middleton close to 200 times.
June 11, 2014: Jury begins deliberations.
June 25, 2014: Jury discharged after failing to reach verdicts on remaining bribery charges against Coulson and Goodman.