News Corporation and its directors face the prospect of criminal charges in the UK after it emerged the parties could be liable for phone hacking offences under â€œneglect of dutyâ€ legislation.
he Crown Prosecution Service has been advising on potential prosecution of News Corp companies on phone hacking charges Photo: Reuters
The revelation came just days after Sue Akers, the deputy assistant commissioner leading the phone hacking inquiry, confirmed police were taking advice on potential corporate charges from the Crown Prosecution Service.
It is understood criminal charges could be brought under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act which covers phone hacking. The legislation allows companies to be prosecuted for phone hacking and directors for negligence that allowed phone hacking to take place.
A number of News International employees, including former director Rebekah Brooks have been charged with phone hacking offences relating to the now defunct News of the World. Until now it was thought unlikely, or impossible, under UK law to bring legal action against either the company or its directors.
US legislation is far tougher in dealing with corporate crimes meaning a corporate prosecution on the other side of the Atlantic has, until now, seemed more likely.
Lawyer for News International and News Corp were reported to have contacted â€œauthoritiesâ€ to protest about the potential escalation of the phone hacking inquiry to a corporate level.
As well as Rebekah Brooks, both Rupert and James Murdoch sat on the boards of News International companies. All three have resigned since the phone hacking scandal broke.
A spokesman for the CPS declined to comment. In a prepared statement a News International spokesman said: â€œWe are aware of the reference made by DAC Sue Akers in her evidence to the Leveson Inquiry and noted also that she agreed that the current senior management and corporate approach at News International has been to assist and come clean.â€
From the Telegraph