Many will rightly celebrate the departure of the US national security adviser. But however welcome the news, it reflects the deeper problems with this administration
Rupert Murdoch could soon face his own trial over the British phone hacking scandal, as the British courts complete all the cases before them concerning allegations of illegality by some of his senior staff and journalists.
The other trials have already seen members of his staff sentenced to terms of imprisonment for carrying out activites that have breached British law. One case alone has involved about 1,600 people who have been shown to be victims of Murdoch newspapers.
The next step for the Scotland Yard team heading the many months of investigation into the activities of News Corporation in England will be to conduct an interview or a series of interviews with Murdoch himself.
As the head of the giant international companies, News Corporation and 21st Century Fox in America, the Murdoch trial may turn out to be the most sensational.
The interview will be carried out “under caution”, which means a warning to Murdoch that he has an option of not having to answer questions that might incriminate himself. As with other alleged criminals, he will have his lawyer with him to ensure that his legal rights are protected.
The Guardian newspaper in England has reported that 11 other trials are already under way, involving about 20 Murdoch journalists accused of phone hacking or perverting the course of justice.
Police have aleady interviewed under caution more than 200 people connected with the Murdoch papers, as well as 101 journalists from other newspapers on similar charges.
Civil charges already settled against Murdoch have resulted in damages payments to 718 victims of illegal phone hacking.
James Murdoch, the younger of Mudoch’s two sons, may also be interviewed by the police under the same arrangements.
If both Rupert and James, both directors of their British companies, were able to show evidence that they were not guilty of any breaches of the crriminal law, they could still be charged charged under Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act for prosecution for a breach or several breaches of laws coverning neglect, connivance or having given consent to breaches of their legal duties under laws covering company managements.
The headaches for Rupert Murdoch are not going to go away after his attempts to cover up the shareholder rebellion against the way he manages his companies, always following his own wishes, without seeking shareholder approval.
One of his main UK shareholders has tried unsuccessfully for three years to remove Rupert’s younger son, James Murdoch, from the board of Sky TV in England. Now the powerful Local Authority Pension Fund is trying to have him removed on the grounds of “conflict of interest”, because of his clumsy attempts to avoid blame for the hacking scandal that has cost the Murdoch companies millions of pounds in criminal trials and settlements. Nevertheless, James was re-elected comfortably at the British Sky AGM last week.
James had been standing for re-election to British Sky, but his father has decided to make him chairman of the two European TV companies he has merged — Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia. James, perhaps strategically, stepped aside a chairman of Sky Deutschland last week ahead of the UK vote.
Rupert owns 39 per cent of British Sky and has his own team of directors of on that board.
He faces the possibility of being forced to relinquish his holding on British Sky, depending on the outcome of the current trials. This places a shadow over the next British election.
If Labor should return to government, his divestiture of British Sky is inevitable, however he and James would still control the two European TV stations which would probably still be connected to British Sky.
Rupert is used to dealing with all manner of business complexity and skulduggery, however it clearly remains a serious challenge to his plans for further world domination.