A lawyer for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp pleaded with British police and prosecutors not to file corporate charges in a phone-hacking scandal, arguing it would be “apocalyptic” for the company, according to a report.
News Corp brass so feared prosecutors would hold the company liable for the phone-hacking mess, they ordered up an analysis that showed such a move would likely doom the media giant.
The consequences of a corporate charge could “kill the corporation and 46,000 jobs would be in jeopardy,” the News Corp analysis concluded, The Independent of Britain reported Wednesday.
The scandal has already cost News Corp a whopping $535 million, including financial settlements with 718 phone-hacking victims, according to figures reported to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in May.
Word of the turmoil inside News Corp leaked out a day after it was revealed that Scotland Yard detectives have asked to interview Murdoch “under caution” — a warning given to suspects.
On Tuesday, one of Murdoch’s former top honchos, Andy Coulson, was convicted on phone-hacking crimes that occurred under his editorship of the News of the World.
Coulson’s conviction and Murdoch’s pending grilling indicate prosecutors are pursuing corporate charges against Murdoch’s company and could prosecute the 83-year-old media baron himself.
Prosecutors could go after Murdoch under section 79 of Britain’s Regulation and Investigatory Powers Act, which holds company directors liable if evidence shows they consented or connived with the misdeeds of employees.