Oops, News Corp Did It Again

It just never seems to end for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA). The media giant’s London newspaper and Britain’s oldest daily, The Times, has been hauled into court by detective Richard Horton, of the Lancashire Constabulary in Northwest England, for hacking his email account in 2009.

Horton was the writer of an anonymous blog detailing police work that became the focus of nationwide media attention. The Times allegedly hacked into his email to ascertain, and then reveal, Horton’s identity in 2009; the newspaper owned up to the hacking in January of this year.

In his suit, filed after The Times did not respond to his letter claiming compensation, Horton is seeking “substantial damages,” according to his lawyer. The fact of the lawsuit has been confirmed by Mary Kearney, spokeswoman for News International in London, who declined to add further comment.

In fact, Horton tried unsuccessfully to prevent The Times from revealing his name by filing a suit against the paper in 2009 – according to editor James Harding, the paper misled the court into believing that it discovered Horton’s identity through legitimate deduction, while all the time it was aware of the hacking. The hacking was carried out by reporter Patrick Foster, who had in fact informed his editor and the paper’s lawyer of his doings.

In a tailpiece, it might be worthwhile to point out that on October 21 last year Murdoch denied knowledge of any computer hacking by his British papers, whereas just a week earlier, Harding had admitted to the Horton hacking in an ethics inquiry.