Saturday. 22 October 2016

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Audio: Rupert Murdoch fumes, rails and bangs meeting table

Media mogul vents his fury in secret recording at ‘disgraceful’ police over bribes probe

We believe that this meeting may contain evidence of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office

Met’s Operation Elveden

Exaro today releases audio of further extracts of private comments made by media mogul Rupert Murdoch and captured in a secret recording.

Murdoch was secretly recorded at a meeting held at The Sun’s headquarters in London with nearly two dozen of its executives and reporters as he railed against the “disgraceful” police investigation that has been “torturing” his journalists.

The media mogul controls News UK, formerly known as News International, which publishes The Sun, as well as The Times and The Sunday Times. It also owned the News of the World, but closed the title two years ago in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.

He makes a special mention of his protégé, Rebekah Brooks, former editor of the News of the World and chief executive of News International.

He also claims that it is important for the company to “protect sources”. However, the company set up the management and standards committee (MSC) to hand to police information that identified confidential sources.

Nearly all the Sun journalists at the meeting had been arrested by the Metropolitan Police Service’s ‘Operation Elveden’ over allegations of illegal news-gathering practices, including the paying of police officers and other public officials for information.

The release of further audio comes as the Met made a formal request to Exaro for the “Rupert Murdoch tape”.

A senior detective on Operation Elveden told Exaro: “We believe that this meeting may contain evidence of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office, and we need to secure the best evidence.”

He also said: “If you are not willing to supply this voluntarily, we will seek to obtain this via a production order.”

Exaro responded by pointing out that, although we have heard the complete recording, we do not have an audio copy of the entire meeting. As full a transcript as possible is published on our website.

Exaro teamed up with Channel 4 News to expose the story last Wednesday, which has sent shockwaves around the world, with calls for authorities in both the UK and the US to investigate Murdoch’s private comments.

In the 45-minute meeting – secretly recorded by multiple Sun staff – Murdoch indicated that he knew for decades that his newspaper journalists were bribing public officials.

A spokeswoman for News UK told Exaro in a statement ahead of the disclosure: “The Sun has been, and continues to be, supportive of its employees. Mr Murdoch has great empathy for those whose lives have been overturned, and continues to believe everyone charged deserves the right to be presumed innocent unless proven otherwise.

“It is simply false that Mr Murdoch knew that payments were made to police before News Corporation disclosed that to UK authorities. The MSC continues to co-operate with those authorities, under the supervision of the court.”

Exaro uploaded an audio file of 13 minutes of key comments made by Murdoch at the meeting in March at News UK’s headquarters in Thomas More Square in east London, near Tower Bridge.

A further release of audio showed how the final five minutes of the meeting ended in high emotion, as The Sun’s agony aunt, Deidre Sanders, read out to Murdoch a heart-rending letter written by the wife of one of the newspaper’s executives.

Today, Exaro is releasing a further six minutes of comments made by Murdoch at the meeting. They can be heard by clicking on the image above. (Pictures of Thomas More Square: Bob Bryant)

Exaro has told Operation Elveden that if it regards Murdoch’s comments as relevant to its investigation, then it is happy to supply detectives with the audio clips, which we have in any event made public.

The transcript of the extracts in the audio are re-printed below:

Rupert Murdoch: “Yeah, look, please be just as honest as you want to be, and I’ll try and respond.”


RM: “Anyone who is unhappy, say so, and we’ll do what we can to give you the choice of another lawyer. We were assured we’ve done a pretty good job of choosing, but I don’t know.”


RM: “I think the worst thing that’s going to happen is that some of you will be charged shortly, and some of you will be released shortly. And the bulk of you will be made aware after three or four months. It’s just disgraceful what they’re doing, but we’ll see.”


RM: (Chuckles.) “Well, we all take legal advice. I’ll take that decision. I’ll take responsibility. Absolutely. And I don’t think there’s any problem about that. But-”


RM: “Yeah. And one of these high-priced lawyers would say it’s our fault, but that situation existed at every newspaper in Fleet Street. Long since forgotten. But absolutely. Do you think you will be charged, in your case?”


RM: “Yeah, I’ve heard bigger figures… They’ve had waves of people come in. The second wave has knocked over the first wave. It goes on, and on, and on… It doesn’t help you to know that the police are incompetent.”


RM: “It’s nothing much more than a hunch. Whether it’s 30 per cent, or 50 per cent, that they don’t go ahead with, release, they will take their bloody time about it just in case, and keep torturing you. But the very fact that there are any, will be almost an admission that they went too far. Okay, the whole thing is going too far, but it’s going to weaken them. But what I worry about for your sakes is that those who are charged may not get to court until next year. They’re unbelievably slow… It’s just getting dragged out and dragged out, through incompetence…

“But I think, fairly soon, we’ve been told to expect some charges and some releases, but not by any means covering all of you. It’s the best indication we have, but I don’t really trust anything they tell us…”


RM: “The thing about public interest- the judges and the lawyers will tell you it’s not a legal defence. But I think it’s a massive defence with the jury…”


RM: “Yes. We’ve got to correct that in some way, for the future. But you’ve got to protect sources. In one case we paid a bundle, a huge bundle of money, it was at the News of the World. But a woman then said she’d been hacked. I think we’ve got records of how we actually paid for them, legally, on round about ten occasions, where that information had come from, but I think some idiot at the News of the World thought they’d better be careful. The law of libel is so tough. So they hacked it just to check, it would seem. I don’t know, we’ve never seen [the private investigator’s] diary. The cops have got it. But the people there said we can’t disclose the fact that we first got all that information, on ten occasions, from somebody else, not the hacking thing at all. So, you know. Sure, I think you’ve got to protect your sources.”


RM: “Well, we didn’t go round collecting it, and saying here it is. They came and searched the offices.”


RM: “They said, if you go to his office you’ll find all this? I don’t think so... They [police] were in Rebekah’s office for two days, thereabouts, when there were three executives in there with them. And they [police] say how they came in and got all this stuff against great resistance. But there was none. They [executives] were just watching. And they [police] didn’t get anything worthwhile anyway, but that’s another matter.”


RM: “Oh absolutely, absolutely, you’re right.”

(Long pause.)

Unidentified person: “Anybody else, before we go? Can we-”

RM: “All I can say to you is that I feel terrible about it. But here we are.”

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