News Corp. Papers Responsible For Hacking Gordon Brown, Royal Family, and Other Political Figures

A day after News of the World released its last issue, news has surfaced that depicts a trend among News Corp.’s (NASDAQ:NWSA) British media holdings, and the scandal could be disastrous for the company’s position in the U.K.

According to an article in The Guardian today, both The Sunday Times and The Sun — British newspapers owned by News International, a subsidiary of News Corp. — have targeted former prime minister Gordon Brown, alleging that they attempted to access his voicemail, used a serving police officer to search the police national computer for information on Brown, and obtained tax paperwork by hacking his accountant’s computer, among other things. Brown was allegedly targeted by the papers for over 10 years, while he served as chancellor of the exchequer and as prime minister.

The Guardian article states that Scotland Yard discovered paperwork referencing both Brown and his wife in the possession of Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who carried out phone-hackings for News of the World. Abbey National Bank found evidence that someone working for the Sunday Times posed as Brown on six separate occasion in order to gain details from his account. Brown’s lawyers were deceived into handing over some of Brown’s legal files by someone working for the Sunday Times, and back in 2006, The Sun obtained Brown’s infant son’s medical records, ultimately publishing a story about the boy’s cystic fibrosis.

But Brown wasn’t the only politician being targeted by News International. Fellow Labour Party member Tony Blair, who preceded Brown as prime minister, as well as his media adviser Alastair Campbell were both privately investigated by News International papers, as well as former deputy prime minister John Prescott and his political adviser Joan Hammell, Peter Mandelson, Jack Straw, David Blunkett, Tessa Jowell, Bill Bush, and Chris Bryant, all of whom held important government positions that made them privy to all sorts of information that the newspapers could have found invaluable.

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Scotland Yard’s Operation Weeting had previously found evidence of News of the World‘s phone hacking campaign, which included information on Brown and his wife. And now they have found evidence that News of the World‘s investigator Glenn Mulcaire may have hacked the voicemail of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, better known as Prince Charles and Camilla in the States, among other members of the royal household. The BBC has cited emails showing that News International paid bribes to royal protection officers in order to obtain the private telephone numbers of members of the royal household. Previous statements by police have identified Prince William and Prince Harry, as well some members of staff, as targets of Mulcaire’s phone hacking.

This news comes as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA) faces increased scrutiny over its deal to buy British Sky Broadcasting (PINK:BSYBY), with Britain’s Culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, asking regulators to reconsider the sale. The $12 billion acquisition would the the single largest for News Corp., but officials as high up as deputy prime minister Nick Clegg now oppose the sale. Murdoch shut down News of the World last week in hopes of saving his company’s reputation in order to allow the BSkyB deal to go through. News of the World is responsible for hacking into the voicemail of missing girl Milly Dowler, hindering police investigations into what ultimately turned out to be murder. That news broke last week, triggering the closing of the 168-year-old newspaper and the arrests of some of its current and former employees.