Rupert Murdoch’s huge hacking scandal in the UK continues to just get worse and worse — and it looks like News Corps attempts to cooperate with authorities may be too little, too late.The Telegraph has been granted access to new documents from the UK’s High Court that suggest News International (the UK wing of Murdoch’s News Corp) deleted hundreds of thousands of emails on nine separate occasions.
The aim of these deletions would be “to eliminate in a consistent manner” emails that “could be unhelpful in the context of future litigation in which a News International company is a defendant”.
Here’s why this is big trouble. After 2008, News International was legally obligated to keep evidence of phone hacking as civil cases were proceeding — but an email deletion policy was implemented in 2009.
Ben Fenton of the FT has tweeted that this law may be considered “Conspiracy to pervert the Course of Justice”.
We had a look at the Crown Prosecution Services definition of that crime:
The offence of Perverting the Course of Justice is committed when an accused:
- does an act or series of acts;
- which has or have a tendency to pervert;
- and which is or are intended to pervert;
- the course of public justice.
Yep, deleting loads of emails about crimes you have committed seems to fit these criteria.
So, what’s the time frame?
The course of justice must be in existence at the time of the act(s).
The course of justice starts when:
- an event has occurred, from which it can reasonably be expected that an investigation will follow; or
- investigations which could/might bring proceedings have actually started; or
- proceedings have started or are about to start.
Ok, so basically once the crime has occurred and legal proceedings are about to start, you shouldn’t start deleting evidence of your crimes.
So far, this is sounding pretty bad.
Finally, whats the maximum sentence?
Life imprisonment and/or fine.
Note: If you have a good knowledge of UK law and more ideas on what this could mean drop us an e-mail.
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