ThinkProgress filed this story from Los Angeles, California.Today, a British parliamentary commission announced that it will summon James Murdoch for a second time to question him about News Corp.’s phone-hacking scandal. So far, the British inquiry has not yet initiated similar investigations in the United States.
In September, ThinkProgress followed up on a report by the Guardian that detailed the story of Robert Emmel, a former News Corp. employee. Emmel gave the U.S. Senate a 58-page whistleblower tip alleging that his company carried out a vicious hacking campaign against its competitors, including a company called Floorgraphics. We found that Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) staffer had received the document (and said he would act on it), but never followed through with a referral to the Justice Department or a congressional inquiry. Emmel was subsequently crushed with a legal harassment campaign and the victims of News Corp.’s domestic hacking were silenced with $655 million in settlements and buyouts.
Tom Watson, a British member of Parliament, helped break open the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal. Watson traveled to Los Angeles on Friday to attend the News Corp. shareholder meeting and rally demonstrators against the company. A few hours after sparring with Rupert Murdoch, Watson told ThinkProgress in an interview that in his opinion, “when you’ve got a concern that the law is being breached,” the matter should be always be reported to police authorities:
FANG: Speaking of computer hacking, ThinkProgress broke the story that an employee at News Corp gave a 58-page dossier detailing the different computer hacking that News Corp used against its United States competitors, including Floormarketing, a company based in New Jersey. He gave that to the United States Senate, including Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. They sat on it. It’s been five years now, there’s been no action. They never referred it to the Justice Department; they haven’t opened their own investigation. What’s your message to the United States Senate? What should they be doing?
WATSON: Look it’s not up to me to tell the United States Senate what they should do. I’m a UK lawmaker and the Senate can make its own decisions. I just know with my own experience in the UK with the hacking scandal, there’s a lot of whistleblowers that come forward. You have to sift through serious concerns and those that are erroneous. But when you’ve got a concern that the law is being breached, then I’ve always taken a view that I should report it to the police as quickly as I can.
Watch it here:
Watson said he was unfamiliar with the specifics of the case, and had been under the impression that the Emmel tip had eventually found its way to American authorities. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Not only has the Senate refused to refer the Emmel tip to the Department of Justice or open its own investigation, but the Department of Justice failed to act even on the advice of the FBI. New York Times media reporter David Carr noted that FBI agents, after reviewing the “excellent paper trail” left by News Corp. while allegedly breaking into the computers of competitor Floorgraphics, contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey to consider a criminal investigation. At the time, the U.S. attorney was a Bush appointee named Chris Christie, now the governor of the state. Christie was a confidant of Roger Ailes, the head of News Corp. subsidiary Fox New, and as Carr noted, the FBI case “died a slow death” in Christie’s office.