Tom Mockridge, the News Corp. executive who essentially replaces James Murdoch atop the News International tabloid empire, knows where the bodies are buried: inside a cache of 10 terabytes of email and other documents that he has said he will selectively provide to British police investigating criminal phone and computer hacking at Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers.That would be the same email that certain news Corp. executives allegedly began deleting in 2009.
News Corp. will likely position the Mockridge move as an outsider with clean hands who will impose adult supervision on a business run aground by Murdoch’s boy-child.
Part of that is true: Mockridge only arrived at the London tabloid division of News Corp. in July 2011 to replace Rebekah Brooks, Rupert’s flame-haired surrogate daughter whose ruthless management style overlooked hacking by reporters at The News of the World and The Sun.
He previously toiled as the chief of Sky Italia and as James’ right-hand man in Asia—far away from London, in other words. A News Corp source told The Guardian, “He is a strong and competent manager. He is not very flappable and is hugely experienced.”
But he has also been with the Murdoch empire since 1991, meaning that he’s part of that close circle of longtime loyalists and insiders in whom Murdoch has placed much trust.
In fact, long before today’s unsurprising departure by James, Mockridge was given perhaps the most sensitive job of all with News Corp.: Selecting for the British police investigation internal emails related to hacking. He told the Leveson inquiry in October that he would not be giving all News Corp.’s email to police:
“Additionally, a major exercize has been conducted in reconstructing and collating a database of historic emails and other documents, consisting of around 10 terabytes worth of data. That restore is nearing completion. … I will ensure that NI will provide material of relevance to the inquiry.”
His work has been fruitful. In December, he amended his testimony to say that an arrested News Corp. reporter had been discovered hacking someone’s email and was disciplined and then dismissed for an “unrelated matter.”
Which begs the question, if hacking is only a disciplinary offence at News, what was the act that got the writer fired?
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