11:0 am MST update: see breaking news update:
I don’t know enough about the rules of UK parliamentary committee hearings or US’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act but I think “Murdoch defies U.K. parliament in hacking probe” may be neither smart nor stupid, and simply legal moves to keep the old man and the company out of more trouble. While I don’t think Murdoch is going onto the same path as Lord Black (yet), I am openly wondering whether it would get to that one day?
News references worth reading (including breaking news):
Guardian, “Phone hacking scandal – live coverage”
“[breaking news update] * Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks will all appear before the Commons culture, media and sport committee on Tuesday. The Murdochs originally refused to appear, but pressure appears to have forced them to reconsider (see 4.45pm). […]
2.42pm: Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York, who resigned over reports that he was a client of prostitution ring, claims at Slate that it is “unlikely” News Corporation’s “shoddy ethics were limited to Great Britain”. Furthermore, he argues that US law may have been broken on the facts we know already. He refers specifically to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars American companies from paying bribes abroad.
So acts in Britain by British citizens working on behalf of News Corp. create liability for News Corp., an American business incorporated in Delaware and listed on American financial exchanges.
Spitzer, who notes that News Corp’s behaviour has shocked even “cynical British journalists”, adds:
The other reason to investigate here is that there is serious doubt that this matter can be investigated properly in Great Britain. Scotland Yard is already implicated, as is [David] Cameron’s government. DoJ [the US department of justice] can and should fill the void.
The legal powers to summon anyone against their will to answer questions at a parliamentary select committee may have fallen into disuse and may no longer be enforceable, a leading constitutional expert has suggested. Trying to enforce such infrequently exercised regulations against a foreign national — in this case the Murdochs — is even less likely to be successful, according to Vernon Bogdanor, the former professor of government at Oxford University.
My understanding is that as they are not British citizens no sanctions could be used against them. A British national could, in theory, be fined or imprisoned [if they defied the summons]. The authority would be in the standing orders of parliament but my hunch is that it has fallen into desuetude [disuse].”
“By the time the dust settles, the paper may well have brought down, virtually singlehandedly, not just a media giant but an entire government.“
Has the tide finally turned on the old man?