News Corp.'s U.K. Newspaper Unit Reaches $4.8 Million Phone Hacking Settlement
The deal settles claims that News of the World hacked mobile phone messages of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, with Rupert Murdoch, who will make a personal donation as part of the agreement, saying "I hope this donation underscores my regret for the company’s role in this awful event.”
NEW YORK - News Corp.'s U.K. newspaper unit said Friday that it has finalized a deal to pay 3 million pounds ($4.78 million) to settle claims that its shuttered tabloid News of the World hacked mobile phone messages of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
Under the settlement, which was in line wiith a company offer that has been negotiated and finalized in recent weeks, News International said it will pay 2 million pounds to the Dowler family. In addition, chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch will make a personal donation of 1 million pounds that will benefit charities selected by the Dowler family.
“When I met with the Dowlers in July, I expressed how deeply sorry I was for the hurt we had caused this family,” Rupert Murdoch said in a statement. “The behavior that the News of the World exhibited towards the Dowlers was abhorrent and I hope this donation underscores my regret for the company’s role in this awful event.”
Said the Dowler family: “Nothing that has been agreed will ever bring back Milly or undo the traumas of her disappearance and the horrendous murder trial earlier this year. The only way that a fitting tribute could be agreed was to ensure that a very substantial donation to charity was made in Milly’s memory. We hope that projects will be undertaken so that some good can come from this.”
The settlement of the case that reignited the phone hacking scandal came just hours ahead of the entertainment giant's annual shareholder meeting in LA, which is expected to see investors express frustrations over the phone hacking scandal and corporate governance concerns. However, given the Murdoch family's big voting stake, all board members proposed by News Corp., including chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan Murdoch, are expected to be confirmed. Analysts have suggested a big protest vote could lead to changes at the company down the line.
Email: Georg. Szalai@thr.com