Just when you thought News International chief Rupert "Teflon Don" Murdoch might be powerful enough to beat the case, a suspect turned snitch is lighting a new fire under Murdoch's 2011 nightmares.
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The Guardian's Lisa O'Carroll, Patrick Wintour, and Josh Halliday report a suspect in the New of the World phone-hacking flipped and gave up 600 fresh allegations of phone hacking related to the old News of the World scandal. The would-be suspect is now a "crown witness," the trio says. We're expected to hear more about the new information during a Monday court hearing related to the existing outstanding litigation regarded to the scandal. What complicates things, and is some great timing for one side of Britain's media reform debate, is the new allegations will come to light hours before a scheduled Parliament vote on stiffer press regulations the came about because of the original phone hacking info.
The new information from the "supergrass," as the British like to call it, is likely what led to the arrest of another six former News of the World employees in February. The new information is also being credited for the recent arrests of former Daily Mirror employees, one of whom reportedly worked as Piers Morgan's deputy while he was at the paper. Morgan denied any knowledge of phone hacking in his 2011 testimony to the Leveson inquiry.
The crazy part about this whole thing: Scotland Yard's phone hacking investigation was expected to conclude later this year, but now, because of this new information from the snitch, the investigation isn't expected to conclude until some time in 2015. The company did settle with some of its most high-profile victims. But many settlements had one of two stipulations: that the victims could sue News Corp. again, or that they could never sue again. The new allegations are expected to bring in a mass of new legal cases.
So, things in Rupert's world are going to get a lot worse before they get any better. Whether or not he knew these charges were coming is up for some debate, too. Murdoch's in the process of splitting News Corp. empire into two separate pieces: an entertainment division and a publishing division. A recent S.E.C. filing showed "PubCo," as its rumored to be titled, was being birthed with absolutely no debt and a whopping $2.6 billion in cash on hand. In the filing, the company warned potential investors about PubCo because of the potential legal fallout from the remaining phone hacking cases. The phone hacking scandal has already cost the company a combined $275 million, the filing warned. PubCo seems lucky to have all that cash now. Maybe Murdoch's plans to buy the L.A. Times will be put on the back burner for a few minutes.