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British newspaper's phone hacking scandal reaches deeper into U.S. journalism

The phone hacking scandal that has rocked British journalism and Rupert Murdoch's media empire, forcing the closure of the News of the World, continues to reach into the United States, with the arrest in London of the Hollywood-based editor for the disgraced tabloid, the New York Times reports.

James Desborough flew to London this week to be arrested by Scotland Yard officers on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept voicemails, said The Independent.

The 39-year-old had been transferred to Hollywood in 2009 after being named one of Britain's top show business reporters. Among his "exclusives," the Los Angeles Times reports, include details of the nasty divorce between Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, who believes her phone was hacked by the Mirror, another London tabloid. The LA Times suspects the arrest of Desborough "could prompt further investigation into the practices of News of the World and other tabloid journalists in the U.S."

In its coverage of the Desborough arrest, the 13th so far as the scandal evolves, the Guardian suggested if the Hollywood-based editor "was involved in hacking while in Britain, it raises the question of whether he practiced those techniques in the U.S. — and if so, whether he was the first and only News of the World journalist in the U.S. to do so."

Although Rupert Murdoch briskly defended his company News Corp., which includes the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, the CEO faced more bad news this week when a former News of the World reporter revealed the existence of a letter he wrote four years ago that claimed upper management knew full well about illegal phone hacking, despite what they claimed publicly, the Guardian reported.

Clive Goodman's "claims also raise serious questions about Rupert Murdoch's close friend and adviser, Les Hinton, who was sent a copy of the letter but failed to give it to police, said the Guardian, adding Hinton and other News Corp. executives also told Parliament that News of the World editors didn't know "about the interception of the voicemail of public figures and that Goodman was the only journalist involved."

In light of Goodman's bombshell, Jack Schafer suggests the Wall Street Journal needs to revisit its July 18 editorial in which it defended Hinton, the Journal's publisher and CEO who resigned after it became clear the alleged phone hacking occurred when he ran News Corp.'s British newspapers. Writing for Slate, Schafer noted it was Hinton who fired Goodman, headed the division that paid the reporter's legal bills and must have known about the damning letter. "Now that there's new evidence to doubt Hinton, will the editorial page examine it and reconsider its July 18 editorial?"



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