At issue is what he knew and when he knew it. In 2008, he authorized a $1-million settlement of an invasion of privacy suit brought by Gordon Taylor, CEO of the Professional Footballers Assn. A private investigator hired by News of the World who since has served jail time confessed to breaking into Taylor's phone messages.
Confidentiality and Taylor's silence were key components of the settlement. But in Britain it is illegal to silence a crime victim. "James Murdoch paid an astronomical sum in the settlement of a case in which a story was never written," Watson said. "It came with a confidentiality clause, meaning he knowingly bought the silence of a victim of a crime."
Scotland Yard would make that determination. The police agency has reopened its investigation into alleged phone hacking and police bribery by tabloids in London. Last week, a reporter for the Sun, a News Corp. paper, was arrested in connection with the police bribery probe — the first time accusations of wrongdoing extended beyond News of the World.
News Corp. said it would set up a fund to compensate victims of the phone hacking.
In October, at News Corp.'s annual shareholder meeting, about 70% of independent investors who voted opposed returning James Murdoch to the company's board of directors. He survived the challenge because the Murdoch family controls nearly 40% of the company's voting shares. Later this month, he will stand for reelection as chairman of British Sky Broadcasting.