American investigators may look into payment to police
Following stints with Reuters and the Press Association, Martin Hickman joined The Independent as a news editor in 2001. He became the Consumer Affairs Correspondent in September 2005 and has run the paper's trenchant campaigns on packaging, bank charges and factory-farmed chicken. He writes on subjects as diverse as food, finance, energy and fashion. With Tom Watson, he is author of a new book on the phone hacking scandal, Dial M for Murdoch - News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain.
Saturday 31 March 2012
A payment to a British police force by a News Corp company accused of using piracy to crack a rival pay-TV service could be studied by US authorities investigating whether Rupert Murdoch's conglomerate broke America's strict anti-corruption laws, a former US Department of Justice lawyer claimed yesterday.
As revealed in yesterday's Independent, Surrey Police confirmed it had received £2,000 from the Surrey-based technology company NDS in 2000 for use "in the fight against organised crime". NDS said the payment ordered by its security chief Len Withall – a former Detective Chief Inspector at Surrey Police – following "some work", was a "one-off charitable donation" and produced an acknowledgement letter.
Bradley Simon, a former lawyer at the US Department of Justice, was reported as saying that the US authorities would be interested in the payment: "The DoJ is focused on payments to officials. The DoJ feels a lot of pressure to make cases when there is a lot of scrutiny."
NDS explained that the payment was a one-off and a spokesman for Surrey Police – which failed to take action against the News of the World despite knowing it had hacked the phone of the missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002 – said yesterday: "We can't find any other records of payments. It appears it was a one-off payment, but we are still looking into it."
News Corp, which has assets of $60bn, is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police in the UK for phone hacking, computer hacking and bribery and by the FBI and the Department of Justice in the US for corrupting British officials, including police officers – illegal under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. News Corp also faces a police inquiry into alleged piracy against pay-TV rivals in Australia.
The BBC's Panorama claimed this week that NDS had undermined a rival to News Corp's BSkyB network, ITV's OnDigital, by leaking its security details onto the Internet, allowing viewers to access its shows for free and partly causing its downfall. NDS denies any wrongdoing.
After Panorama was broadcast on Monday, Rupert Murdoch said News Corp would "hit back hard" at what he said were "lies and libels".
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
Power of Nepal earthquake was equivalent to 20 huge atomic bombs
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 4 Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
- 5 'Isis' schoolgirls: Missing British teenager tweets picture of her Syrian takeaway