July 17, 2011 / 2:24 PM / 8 years ago

TIMELINE-Hacking scandal hits News Corp

(Reuters) - Here are the main events in the phone-hacking scandal leading to News Corp’s Chairman Rupert Murdoch withdrawing his bid for British broadcaster BSkyB and closing the 168-year-old News of the World tabloid.

2000 - Rebekah Wade is appointed editor of Britain’s best-selling Sunday tabloid, News of the World. Aged 32 and the youngest national newspaper editor in the country, she begins a campaign to name and shame suspected pedophiles, leading to some alleged offenders being terrorized by angry mobs. She also campaigns for public access to the Sex Offenders’ Register, which eventually comes into law as “Sarah’s Law.”

2003 - Wade becomes editor of tabloid the Sun, sister paper to the News of the World and Britain’s biggest selling daily. Andy Coulson, her deputy editor since 2000, becomes editor of the Sunday paper. Wade tells a parliamentary committee her paper paid police for information. News International later says this is not company practice.

November 2005 - The Sunday tabloid publishes a story on a knee injury suffered by Prince William. That prompts complaints by officials of the royal court about voicemail messages being intercepted. The complaints spark a police inquiry.

January 2007 - The News of the World’s royal affairs editor Clive Goodman is jailed for four months. Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire is given a 6-month prison term. Goodman and Mulcaire admitted conspiring to intercept communications while Mulcaire also pleaded guilty to five other charges of intercepting voicemail messages.

— After the two were sentenced, editor Coulson resigns, saying he took “ultimate responsibility,” though he says he knew nothing of the offences in advance.

May 2007 - Coulson becomes the Conservative Party’s director of communications under leader David Cameron.

June 2009 - Rebekah Wade becomes CEO of News International. She marries, for a second time, becoming Rebekah Brooks.

July 2009 - The Guardian newspaper says News of the World reporters, with the knowledge of senior staff, illegally accessed messages from the mobile phones of celebrities and politicians while Coulson was editor from 2003 to 2007.

September 2009 - Les Hinton, chief executive of Dow Jones and former executive chairman of Murdoch’s newspaper arm in Britain, tells a committee of legislators any problem with phone hacking was limited to the one case. He says they carried out a wide review and found no new evidence.

February 2010 - The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sports Committee says in a report that it is “inconceivable” managers did not know about the practice, which the legislators say was more widespread than the paper had admitted.

September 2010 - Members ask parliament’s standards watchdog to begin a new investigation into the hacking allegations at the Sunday tabloid and its former editor Coulson.

January 2011 - British police open a new investigation into allegations of phone hacking at the tabloid. Police had said in July 2009 there was no need for a probe into the allegations.

— The News of the World announces it has sacked senior editor Ian Edmondson after an internal inquiry.

— Coulson resigns as Cameron’s communications chief.

April - News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck and Edmondson are arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept mobile phone messages. They are released on bail. The News of the World admits it had role in phone hacking.

July 4 - A lawyer for the family of schoolgirl Milly Dowler, murdered in 2002, says he learned from police the teenager’s voicemail messages had been hacked, possibly by a News of the World investigator, while police were searching for her. Some may also have been deleted, to make room for more, misleading her family into thinking she was still alive. Police later say that they have also been in touch with the parents of two 10-year-old girls killed in the town of Soham in 2002.

July 5 - News International says new information has been given to police. The BBC says it related to e-mails appearing to show payments were made to police for information and were authorized by Coulson.

— The list of those possibly targeted includes victims of the London suicide bombings of July 7, 2005, and the parents of Madeleine McCann, who disappeared in Portugal in 2007.

July 6 - PM Cameron says he is “revolted” by allegations.

— Murdoch appoints News Corp executive Joel Klein to oversee an investigation into the hacking allegations.

— UK’s Daily Telegraph says the News of the World hacked the phones of family of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

July 7 - News Corp announces it will close down the News of the World. The July 10 edition was the last.

July 8 - Cameron announces two inquiries, one to be led by a judge on the hacking scandal, another to look at new regulations for the British press. Cameron says he takes full responsibility for employing Coulson as his spokesman, defending his decision to give him a “second chance.”

— Coulson is arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and suspicion of corruption. He is bailed until October.

— The News of the World’s former royal editor, Goodman, is re-arrested in connection with a police operation looking at alleged payments to police by journalists at the paper.

— Police search the offices of the Daily Star tabloid where Goodman freelanced. The Star is not connected to News Corp.

July 10 - Rupert Murdoch arrives in London.

July 11 - Murdoch withdraws News Corp’s offer to spin off BSkyB’s Sky News channel. This opens the way for the government to refer News Corp’s bid for the 61 percent of BSkyB it does not already own to the competition commission, which will carry out a lengthy probe.

— Allegations surface journalists at News Corp papers targeted former PM Gordon Brown. Police confirm to Brown that his name was on a list of targets compiled by Mulcaire.

July 12 - John Yates, assistant commissioner at London’s Metropolitan Police, criticized for deciding in 2009 not to reopen the earlier inquiry, tells a Home Affairs Committee hearing he probably did only the minimum work required before his flawed decision.

— In the United States, John Rockefeller, chairman of Senate’s commerce committee, calls for an investigation to determine if News Corp had broken any U.S. laws.

July 13 - News Corp withdraws its bid for BSkyB. The move pre-empts a planned vote in parliament that had all-party support for the bid to be dropped. The company statement leaves the door open to a new offer at some point.

— Tom Crone, legal manager at News International, leaves the company, a source familiar with the situation says.

— Cameron gives details of a formal public inquiry into the affair, to be chaired by senior judge, Brian Leveson.

— News Corp’s Australian arm launches investigation to see if any wrongdoing took place at its editorial operations.

July 14 - Rupert Murdoch eventually accepts request by parliament to answer questions on July 19 over the alleged crimes at the News of the World. James Murdoch also says he will appear. Rebekah Brooks agrees to appear, but says the police inquiry may restrict what she can say.

— Police arrest a ninth suspect who media name as Neil Wallis, the former deputy editor of the News of the World.

— FBI says it will investigate allegations News Corp hacked into phone records of victims of September 11 attacks.

— Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, part of his empire, Rupert Murdoch says News Corp handled the crisis “extremely well in every way possible” making just “minor mistakes.” Says his son James acted “as fast as he could, the moment he could.”

July 15 - Brooks resigns as chief executive of News Corp’s British newspaper unit. Tom Mockridge, CEO of the company’s Italian pay TV arm Sky Italia, will replace Brooks.

— Les Hinton also resigns as chief executive of Murdoch’s Dow Jones & Co., which publishes the Wall Street Journal.

July 16/17 - A direct apology from Rupert Murdoch is carried in all UK national newspapers under the headline “We are sorry.”

July 17 - Brooks is arrested as part of an investigation into allegations of phone hacking and bribing police, sources familiar with the situation say.

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