New allegations besiege Murdoch media empire

LONDON — Rupert Murdoch's media empire was besieged Monday by accusations that two more of his British newspapers engaged in hacking, deception and privacy violations that included:

• Accessing former Prime Minister Gordon Brown's bank account information and stealing the medical records of his seriously ill baby son; and

• Paying Queen Elizabeth II's bodyguards for secret information about the monarch, potentially jeopardizing her safety.

If proved, the charges by rival newspapers would dramatically increase the pressure on top Murdoch executives so far largely insulated from the scandal.

The public outrage began a week ago over wrongdoing at the Murdoch-owned best-selling tabloid News of the World.

It has since disrupted the media titan's plans to pay $12 billion for highly profitable satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting and slashed billions off the value of his global conglomerate News Corp.

In Britain, the scandal has cast a harsh light on the unparalleled political influence of Murdoch's collection of newspapers and is taking an increasing toll on Prime Minister David Cameron.

London's Evening Standard newspaper reported that corrupt royal protection officers sold personal details about Queen Elizabeth II — including phone numbers and tips about her movements and staff — to journalists working for the Murdoch tabloid News of the World, raising questions over a breach in national security.

A spokeswoman for Brown said Monday that the former prime minister was shocked by the alleged "criminality and the unethical means by which personal details have been obtained" about his family.

News International spokeswoman Daisy Dunlop said the company had taken note of the accusations and that in order to investigate the company asks "that all information concerning these allegations is provided to us."

New allegations besiege Murdoch media empire 07/12/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 1:10am]

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