Corporate Law

News Reports Claim Murdoch Entities May Have Hacked and Bullied at US Companies, Too

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been asked to expand its investigation of possible telephone voicemail hacking in the United States by individuals and entities related to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

In a letter sent today to Attorney General Eric Holder and the head of the FBI, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., asked that they investigate allegations made by a U.S. in-store marketing company in a settled lawsuit filed in New Jersey in 2004. It contended that owners of the business were bullied and its computer system was hacked after they resisted selling to a Connecticut-based News Corp. subsidiary, reports the Financial Times (reg. req.).

A lengthy Associated Press article details the litigation between Floorgraphics Inc. and News America Marketing In-Store Services Inc. The suit settled for $29 million in 2009. The former owners of the New Jersey-based Floorgraphics, who subsequently sold it to News America Marketing, did not respond to the AP’s request for comment, nor did News Corp., which has previously denied the allegations.

The suit contended that the owners of Floorgraphics were threatened with the destruction of their business, if they stepped on the other company’s toes, by a News America Marketing chief executive officer who subsequently became a high-up at the New York Post, the AP reports. He has denied these allegations in a 2006 depostion and a News Corp. lawyer said in testimony in 2009 that they were fiction.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph is reporting that one former executive says Fox News had an office in New York in 1996 that provided “counterintelligence” on enemies of the television station. The executive also says he suspects the station found out about a secret interview he had given to a New York magazine reporter by hacking the reporter’s telephone records.

Another former executive said that the Fox station monitored its own employees’ emails, creating an atmosphere of paranoia reminiscent of “Russia at the height of the Soviet era,” the British newspaper reports.

A Fox spokesman said these allegations are completely untrue.

Earlier coverage: “Probe of UK Tabloid’s Phone-Hacking Expands; FBI is Looking at Claims 9/11 Victims Were Targeted” “ABC News Says DOJ to Expand FBI Probe of News of the World; Possible FCPA Violations at Issue”

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