July 18, 2011 / 5:09 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 News of the World publishes a story on a knee injury suffered by Prince William. Royal court officials complain about voicemail messages being intercepted. The complaints spark a police inquiry.

January 2007 - News of the World royal affairs editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire admit conspiring to intercept communications, Mulcaire also pleads guilty to five other charges of intercepting voicemail messages. Goodman is jailed for four months, Mulcaire for six months.

— News of the World editor Coulson resigns, saying he took “ultimate responsibility” but knew nothing of the offences in advance.

May 2007 - Coulson becomes Conservative Party director of communications under party leader David Cameron.

June 2009 - Rebekah Wade becomes CEO of News International, grouping Murdoch’s newspapers in Britain. 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 News International, 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, and says it was more widespread than the paper had admitted.

September 2010 - Legislators ask parliament’s standards watchdog to begin a new investigation into the hacking allegations at News of the World 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 2011 - 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 a role in phone hacking.

July 4 - A lawyer for the family of schoolgirl Milly Dowler, murdered in 2002, says he learned from police that her voicemail messages had been hacked, possibly by a News of the World investigator, while police were searching for her. Some messages may also have been deleted to make room for more, misleading her family into thinking she was still alive. Police later say they have also contacted 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 the allegations.

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

— UK’s Daily Telegraph says News of the World hacked the phones of families 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, previously made to help win approval of its bid for the 61 percent of BSkyB it does not own. This opens the way for the government to refer the BSkyB bid to the competition commission which will carry out a long investigation

— Allegations surface that 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 the Home Affairs Committee he probably did only the minimum work required before taking his decision.

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

July 13 - News Corp withdraws its bid for BSkyB. This pre-empts a planned vote in parliament, that had all-party support, on a motion 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. His son James Murdoch also says he will appear. Rebekah Brooks agrees to appear, but says the police inquiry may restrict what she can say.

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

— Rupert Murdoch tells the Wall Street Journal, part of his empire, that News Corp handled the crisis “extremely well in every way possible,” making only “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 International. Tom Mockridge, CEO of the company’s Italian pay TV arm Sky Italia, will replace her.

— Les Hinton 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 - Detectives arrest Brooks on suspicion of intercepting communications and corruption. She is released on bail at midnight after about 12 hours in police custody.

— Paul Stephenson, London’s police commissioner, resigns after coming under fire over the appointment of Neil Wallis as public relations adviser to the force. Wallis, a former News of the World deputy editor, was arrested on July 14.

July 18 - Cameron, on a shortened visit to Africa, defends his handling of the hacking scandal and says parliament will delay its summer recess to let him address lawmakers on July 20.

— Yates resigns over his role in phone hacking probe.

July 19 - Rupert and James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks will appear before parliament’s Culture, Media and Sports committee.

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