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LONDON – Rupert Murdoch‘s News International, the publishing division of News Corp., has undergone a change in the “culture and practice” within its empire, according to Metropolitan police deputy commissioner Sue Akers.
Akers is leading the probes into alleged illegal activities by journalists across all British media outlets including phone and computer hacking and bribery.
Making her second appearance before the Leveson Inquiry – set up to look into media standards and ethics – Akers also told the inquiry that News Corp’s Internal Management and Standards committee has contributed significant evidence that has led to “very substantial” arrests in her ongoing investigation.
She said Murdoch’s unit handed over material that had been downloaded from, and was in possession of, News International titles which appeared to have come from stolen mobile phones.
The material from the phones in question was dated around late 2010, Akers told Leveson, and one of the mobile phones had been looked at so that the contents could be downloaded by experts.
Akers told Leveson that the police have notified 2,615 people who may have been victims of phone hacking and that there are 101 ongoing probes into computer hacking.
During her investigations ,74 people have been arrested to date incluidng the former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks who is facing charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.
Brooks is on bail with a hearing set for Sept 26.
In February, Akers told the inquiry there appeared to be “a culture of illegal payments” at News Corp’s The Sun newspaper.
Her evidence today also included the fact police had determined that public officials, including a high-security prison guard, have received payments from more than one newspaper, expanding the field to those owned by Trinity Mirror and Express Newspapers along with News Corp’s News International.
Her appearance and opinion on a culture change at News International comes on the back of News Corp.’s recent decision to separate its publishing assets and its film and tv empire.
While it’s presumed both will be publicly traded entities, some analysts are predicting that Murdoch will instead purchase the publishing company outright, a theory that makes sense if investors appear uninterested in buying shares of a company that offers little growth potential and is still plagued by scandal.
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