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Tag Archives: Leveson Inquiry

Rupert, check your letter box; you’ve got mail

The letter from Dick Smith to Mr Williams, CEO of News Limited in Australia that we published here under Murdoch Censorship Gives the Lie to ‘Freedom of Speech’ Claims went – to use a modern internet term – viral. Dick Smith has since been widely commended for having the guts to take the fight to one of the most influential, powerful, and many would say, ‘corrupt’ individuals in the world. It’s unheard of in this country for anyone to stand up to Rupert Murdoch. None of our politicians can do it. To do so would see the end of their political careers.

Dick Smith had nothing to lose. He’s successful in his own right and doesn’t rely on Rupert Murdoch to survive. But there are people whose careers are, or can be destroyed by Rupert Murdoch and they are also putting pen to paper. They all have something to lose. They all sacrifice their livelihood for having the courage to tell the truth.

I have found three such letters (of the dozens) written over the years. One from an Australian businessman – the typical Aussie battler; one from a British politician; and one from an American journalist. Let’s start with the Aussie, Michael Atwell, Managing Director of For Sale For Lease.

Mr.K.R.Murdoch, Chairman and CEO, News Corporation.

1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10036. USA.

Dear Rupert Murdoch,

I wonder if you are aware that one of your many companies which is in a monopolistic position in Australia is attempting to kill a number of small but progressive companies in the real estate sector? Companies that are saving Australians money when homes are sold? Companies whose progressive hardworking owners, working families, may well be bankrupted and broken by your actions?

BuyMyPlace, ForSaleForLease and PropertyNow are three internet based companies which have been successful in enabling home owners to sell their own homes and avoid the fees and commissions charged by traditional real estate agents. Realestate.com.au is by far the most important website available in Australia, by its own admission nineteen times the size of its nearest competitors. Mr. Murdoch you own Realestate.com.au. Your company is refusing to renew contracts for BuyMyPlace, ForSaleForLease, Property Now and a number of similar companies which will remove them from the market and strangle their livelihood. Why is this happening Mr. Murdoch? Could it be that these efficient progressive companies who save money for the average Australian are cutting into the wonderful income of the fat cats of the real estate industry? An industry which spends millions of dollars of their clients’ money placing advertisements in your newspapers? An industry which your company is trying to privately regulate to the benefit of traditional real estate agents, evidenced by the presence of two prominent real estate agents on the board of your company Realestate.com.au?

There will no doubt be an ACCC enquiry into the conduct of your company, and it may well be that in due time it’s actions will be judged harsh and inappropriate. In the meantime nearly one thousand Australians who are in the process of selling their homes will be significantly disadvantaged. Young working families who have done nothing wrong will lose their livelihoods, and the opportunity for Australians to follow the international trend known as FSOB, or for sale by owner, will suffer a severe setback in order to protect the sometimes exorbitant commissions of traditional estate agents.

It is very disappointing to witness your company using the considerable clout of your organization to strangle small progressive companies who are delivering a real advantage for average Australians. Mr. Murdoch there is still time for you to step in and prevent this grossly unfair action. Please do so.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Atwell

And next is this very damning letter from Tom Watson, the Member of Parliament for West Bromwich East (UK).

Mr Rupert Murdoch
Chairman and CEO
News Corporation
1211 Avenue of Americas
New York
NY 10036

18 September 2012

Dear Mr Murdoch,

As you know, I have been uncovering criminality at News International for several years. During which time, the company’s management has regularly asked me to provide evidence of its habitual criminality. I have resisted such requests, as I did not believe they were sincere. It was my belief that senior people at the company knew perfectly well about journalists being involved in phone hacking, computer hacking, bribery and blackmail. And that the company had no wish to deal with these problems – did not even see them as such – rather to know what evidence existed in order to destroy it, to muddy the trail, in short, to cover up. For these reasons, I have resisted passing on evidence to you, and have passed it solely to the law enforcement authorities instead.

Nevertheless, I am writing to you today because I believe it may be possible that that era may be drawing to a close. I believe it possible that you and the current executives at the company may have realised that it is now too late to cover up what has gone on at News International. Whether or not you, and your executives, knew about the widespread use within News International of the latest investigative technique to be revealed – burglary – I believe you may now realise that the flat denial and attempt to destroy evidence of previous days will no longer wash with anybody.

I have seen a document from the hard drive of private investigator Sid Fillery, a regular contractor at News International through his company, Southern Investigations. The document, entitled “Alex1.doc” refers to a request for a sortie into the home of a woman living in Ascot. The hard drive was seized by the police in 2002 and is still in their possession. I understand that it was reviewed by the police in 2010 and that an internal document at the Metropolitan Police states quite clearly that they believe the file shows a conspiracy to break and enter into private property. Further details are on the front page of The Independent today.

You might not also be aware that a number of high profile figures who were the victims of phone hacking also reported mysterious break-ins at their homes. The pattern is the same: the homes clinically entered but no valuables taken. My colleague, Chris Bryant was so concerned that his home had been covertly entered that he reported the matter to the police. I understand the Metropolitan Police dispatched Commander Yates to take the statement. I understand the file containing the statement has gone missing.

I have audio testimony from the undercover former police officer with intimate knowledge of Southern investigations who claims that the burglary of the homes of MPs was a regular occurrence.

I am also aware, through the lawyer of a hacking victim, that there is testimony from another former private investigator that he was regularly hired to break into the homes of individuals who were the subject of investigation by News International. At the present time the investigator is not prepared to speak out in public.

This evidence has come to light after the Leveson Inquiry has stopped taking evidence. I think it important that you make a public statement to clarify how you intend to deal with these startling new revelations and how you will assist the police with their investigation.

Shortly, I will also be writing to you confidentially about information I have received from a former employee of the company regarding the conduct of former News of the World journalist and now Sunday Times investigator, Mazher Mahmood.

If there is any integrity at all to your claims to want to clean up the corruption and criminality endemic in your company, perhaps you would act on the evidence I am adducing. Public re-assurance that this matter is being dealt with would be welcome.

I would be grateful for a swift reply to this letter.

Yours sincerely

Tom Watson

And finally one from American journalist Trish Nelson whose professional career would have been on tenterhooks since penning this letter:

Rupert Murdoch
Chairman and Chief Executive
News Corporation
1211 Avenue of Americas
8th Floor
NY, NY 10036

Dear Mr. Murdoch:

I am writing to you because I understand you own and control a large number of newspapers, television stations and other kinds of media outlets.

I have been sickened and saddened by the choices your news organizations have made to show, over and over, on TV, horrible, hate inspired images against President Obama, and people carrying signs with messages of violence.

You are taking advantage of a few sad, ignorant people, who don’t know any better, because they believe Fox News and people like Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly care about them and are telling them the truth. They don’t understand that these people are just doing what they do because they are TV and radio personalities. The people in those crowds don’t understand that they are being used, and the ideas that they are supporting are actually harmful to them. This is not right.

Do you do this for the money? How much money do you and yours need? Are you trying to start full-blown civil unrest so that you can make even more money?

Do you have any idea what it is like out here, having to live and work alongside people who are so horribly misinformed about how the world works? Who actually believe Obama was not born in this country, who actually believe in death panels, who actually believe President Obama is the equivalent of Adolph Hitler and is someone to be feared? They get these ideas from your media organizations.

And it makes them dangerous and sick on an individual level.

Maybe you have the right to do whatever you want, but you are hurting people in our country, and I would like you and your stations to start showing some restraint before one of these individuals thinks they are doing the right thing by actually committing an act of violence.

Trish Nelson
Iowa City, Iowa

P.S. I would also be interested to know the reason why one million anti-war protesters did not deserve any TV time at all, but a few thousand tea-baggers and anti-Obama, anti-health care people deserve so much?

Rupert, check your letter box; you’ve got mail. Hate mail. The hate you spread is finally coming home to roost.

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Have you heard the news about Rupert Murdoch?

Your answer to the question in reference to what I have in mind would probably be ‘no’.

Rupert Murdoch does make the news in Australia now and again, such as with his recent IPA speech in Melbourne or his visit to Darwin but generally our local media don’t find him very newsworthy. For example, when the world had their collective eyes and ears positioned at any favourable vantage point to get the latest on the Leveson Inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal at Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid, the dearth of reporting on this heinous crime in the Australian media was breathtaking. Most of us relied on foreign news sites for what we lacked here: news. The dirty doings in the Murdoch world would be of no interest to the Australian public. Of course not. We don’t belong to the ‘need to know’ collective.

Even his Papal Knighthood, awarded in 1998 has been un-newsworthy in this country. It has been all over the news in America and England since the knighthood was publicly announced recently, and it is being widely and vociferously condemned, particular within the Catholic Church and the British Parliament. Given that Papal Knighthoods are only awarded to people of “unblemished character” it seems odd that our local arm of the Murdoch media empire aren’t front and centre defending the old man against the current wave of international condemnation. Maybe the local media don’t want to upset the Catholic Church here in Australia, after all, they support the same political party as Murdoch does. The international condemnation is something else we don’t need to know about.

Here again is something else that received little attention in Australia but was worthy enough of discussion in lands far away:

Several weeks ago, the Judiciary Report warned that News International/News Corp CEO, Rupert Murdoch, would attack, Julia Gillard, the prime minister of his homeland Australia, for publicly and correctly stating his company’s conduct in the phone hacking scandal is wrong.

On July 22, 2011, in the article Australian Prime Minister Slams Rupert Murdoch And News Corp the Judiciary Report wrote of Murdoch, “Of course, now Murdoch will lie about and smear Gillard in his papers, online and on television, with estimates placing his share of the newspaper market in Australia at 73 percent.

Well, this week Murdoch’s done just that – viciously and vindictively attacked Gillard in one of his newspapers, via a defamatory, baseless article, he could not prove, as it was fabricated to malign her out of revenge for denouncing his unlawful conduct.

As a result of the defamatory piece, Gillard, took the unprecedented step of threatening to sue Murdoch in court for making up a damaging story about her and publishing it in his newspaper. This scared Murdoch, which forced him to issue a public retraction and an apology to Gillard in the newspaper.

It’s amazing what you learn about Rupert Murdoch from overseas media. Don’t expect big news items like this to be splashed across the Australia media:

So the famous Australian-American protector of British sovereignty Rupert Murdoch not only tried to persuade Tony Blair to take a hard-line stance against Europe. He also pressed another United Kingdom prime minister, John Major, for “policy changes” relating to the country’s relationship with supranational institutions. This even went as far as calling for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union – alleges Major.

In his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, Major stated that just before the 1997 general election Murdoch “made it clear that he disliked my European policies, which he wished me to change”. Major added: “If not, his papers could not and would not support the Conservative government. So far as I recall he made no mention of editorial independence, but referred to all his papers as ‘we’.”

I’ve done a search for it. I can’t find anything. We humble Australians don’t need to know that Rupert Murdoch uses his political clout to agitate political change.

But the real big overseas news is that old Mr Murdoch is in deep shit, as Kristina Chew reports:

Will the scandal that has engulfed Rupert Murdoch’s British media holdings spread to the U.S. and, in particular, Fox News?

At the start of May, Senator Jay Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate committee on commerce, science and transportation, wrote to Lord Justice Leveson, who has been heading a British judicial investigation into media ethics in the wake of the phone hacking scandal that broke out last summer following the revelation that reporters from News of the World had hacked into the voice mail of murdered the 13-year-old Milly Dowler, prior to her body being found. Rockefeller is inquiring if, in the course of his investigations, Lord Leveson has uncovered any evidence suggesting that “unethical and sometimes illegal business practices occurred in the United States or involved US citizens.” More from the senator’s letter:

“Evidence that is already in the public record clearly shows that for many years, News International had a widespread, institutional disregard for these laws.”

“I would be very concerned if evidence emerged suggesting that News Corporation officials in New York were also aware of these illegal payments and did not act to stop them.”

The catalyst for Rockefeller’s letter was the final report from British parliament’s culture, media and sport select committee, which stated that Murdoch was “not fit” to run a major international media company.

As the Guardian notes, Rockefeller’s letter marks the first time that a member of the U.S. Senate has taken a more focused interest in the hacking scandal. The Senate could hold public hearings about the hacking scandal and subpoena witnesses and documents from News Corp.

There is yet no discussion of such but much is at stake. The commerce committee oversees the Federal Communications Commission, which has the final say about issuing broadcast licenses including the 27 issued to what the Guardian calls the “jewel in Murdoch’s crown, Fox News.

News Corp. also faces a possible inquiry related to the charges of corruption levied at the company in the U.K. On the same day as Rockefeller’s letter was sent, New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg called for a “robust inquiry” about whether New York-based News Corp. could be charged under anti-bribery and corruption laws, in the wake of reports about voice-mail and email hacking and also of corruption, including bribes to police. News Corp. could be charged under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal for American citizens and companies to pay bribes to government officials abroad.

Indeed, two weeks ago, lawyer Mark Lewis, who has represented a number of hacking victims in the U.K. including the family of Milly Dowler, started investigations into four allegations of phone hacking that had occurred in the U.S.

Lewis has said that there are “so many American aspects” to the hacking scandal, including potential American victims of hacking and the possibility that News Corp. executives have withheld “material information” from shareholders and potential investors.

Writing in the Associated Press, Raphael Satter describes how what he calls not the hacking scandal, but the Murdoch scandal, is following a “classic script” for the rise and fall of a media baron:

“Scrappy outsider turns modest newspaper business into international media conglomerate. Ambition turns to hubris. Mogul dramatically falls from grace.”

Murdoch’s star has surely been tarnished — blackened — in the U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, who made a special trip to Murdoch’s yacht in 2008 to “receive his blessing” said last week that “we all did too much cozying up to Rupert Murdoch.” Just on Tuesday, the Guardian reported that Cameron texted Rebekah Brooks to “keep her head up” in the week before she resigned as CEO of News International and prior to what has turned out to be the first of two arrests for her.

Murdoch still possesses the vast share of his media holdings, and is the head of a “fabulously successful media company.” News Corp.’s share price has remained high despite months of reports about the scandal and the company just reported a big gain in its quarterly profits on Wednesday: For the three months up to March, the company’s net profit rose to $1 billion, as compared to $682 million in the same period last year. In the U.S., the Fox News network, whose decidedly unfair and unbalanced version of the news is what New York Times columnist Bill Keller calls Murdoch’s ”most toxic legacy,” continues to attract legions of viewers while annoying and outraging many of us.

Increasingly isolated in Britain, and certainly despised in the U.S., Murdoch has, writes Satter, become like a figure in the closing scene of Citizen Kane, “successful, wealthy, but unloved.”

There’s still a lot to play out and we haven’t heard the last of it. Meanwhile, he owns over 70% of the Australian newspaper media which is why you’ll never hear that:

The fact of the matter is Murdoch uses Fox News in America and Sky News in Britain, in addition to his many newspapers, to illegally get richer and shape politics as he sees fit according to his will, not what is in the best interest of the public, which is completely unethical and disgraceful. He is one of the greediest, most vengeful and abusive people on the planet with absolutely no moral compass. Murdoch has been trying to rule the world and no one elected or appointed him king.

Is it reasonable to suggest that he runs his Australian media arm no different to that of the USA or the UK?

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