In-House Counsel

Hacking Scandal Leaves News Corp. Legal Department in Disarray

Updated: The legal department at News Corp. is in a state of upheaval after a hacking scandal at its News of the World tabloid.

Worldwide general counsel Lawrence Jacobs left last month, spurring a search for a new general counsel, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, two lawyers have left the company’s U.K. newspaper unit, News International: legal department chief Jon Chapman, and, most recently, legal manager Tom Crone, report the Independent, the Telegraph, the Guardian and Bloomberg News.

Two Justice Department lawyers are playing a role in News Corp.’s legal affairs, Reuters says. Viet Dinh, now a private lawyer at the Bancroft law firm, serves as an independent director on News Corp.’s board and is helping keep board members informed. Joel Klein, a former Justice Department antitrust chief who joined the company to shepherd a move into digital education, is also providing oversight and guidance.

Crone left on Wednesday after indirect criticism by his boss, News Corp. deputy CEO James Murdoch. Crone had recommended a $1.1 million settlement to a hacked phone executive; Murdoch said he didn’t have a “complete picture” of the situation when he approved the deal.

Crone has maintained he wasn’t aware of the full extent of the wrongdoing at News of the World, the Telegraph says. He previously gave lawmakers a study by law firm Harbottle & Lewis that found no evidence of widespread hacking. He has also said he did not know of emails implicating staff and executives.

Additional coverage:

The Lawyer: “Harbottle & Lewis dragged into News International phone hacking row”

Updated at 1:40 p.m. to include information from Reuters.

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