Murdoch staff told not to destroy documents

 

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The Independent Online

Staff across all of Rupert Murdoch's News International newspapers have been warned not to delete or destroy documents relating to any of the phone-hacking investigations now under way.

In an email sent to employees over the weekend, the company reveals it has suspended all automatic deletion of files and destruction of documents.

The memo shows News Corp's fears that journalists from its other papers might get sucked into the phone-hacking scandal, given the company's insistence that it was solely an issue for the News of the World.

The email, from News Corp's new Management and Standards Committee, also raises questions about why such a policy has just been implemented, given the company has known of the allegations against it for some time.

"It is very important that all News International employees take immediate steps to preserve and retain all documents that may be relevant to these issues," it reads. "We apologise that this is necessary but it is an important step the company must take in order to comply with the various investigations."

It adds: "Please suspend any automatic deletion or discarding of any documents, whether electronic or paper, including of emails or drafts of documents... If you are uncertain whether a document is relevant or falls within the definition of 'document... you should preserve it."

The company also confirms that its current policy on deleting documents has been suspended.

"Given the current circumstances you should be aware that all policies requiring the destruction of such documents or overwriting of any electronic material will be suspended immediately," it said.

The News of the World newsroom has already been sealed and staff refer to it as a "crime scene". All News Corp staff will be spoken to in the coming days over the way they deal with emails.

News Corp's Management and Standards Committee is being run by News International's group general manager Will Lewis, public-relations man Simon Greenberg and Jeff Palker, general counsel for News Corp Europe and Asia.

It is being overseen by Joel Klein, a News Corp director and former legal adviser to the White House.

Yesterday, The New York Times reported concerns over Joel Klein's independent adjudicator role given his close relationship with the Murdochs. He sat behind them last week when they gave evidence to MPs.

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