News Corporation beefs up hacking cleanup committee

Published Jul 18 2011, 16:52 BST  |  By

Rupert Murdoch in front of a News Corporation logo

© PA Images

News Corporation has given greater powers to the team handling the cleanup operation at News International after the phone hacking scandal.

Lord Grabiner QC has been appointed as independent chairman to the Management & Standards Committee (MSC), whose staff will no longer be based at News International's headquarters in east London.

The committee is made up of News International general manager Will Lewis and News International corporate affairs director Simon Greenberg, but they will be moved to a separate location to run the investigation under greater independence. They will also give up their posts and work on the MSC full time.

Lewis and Greenberg will focus on the police investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World, as well as News International's wider involvement in the scandal.

The committee will report to Joel Klein, the News Corp board member who has been handed responsibility for overseeing the inquiry. Klein will in turn report to Viet Dinh, an independent director and chairman of News Corp's corporate governance committee.

Lord Grabiner, 66, is a respected commercial lawyer who recently represented Liverpool FC in the High Court. His website reveals that he specialises in "company disputes".

Klein, who has previously held the position of assistant attorney general in the US justice department, said: "The extension of the MSC is the next step in dealing with the issues surrounding News International. It will co-operate fully with all authorities and also lay the foundation for future standards. It is therefore vitally important that it is independent and properly governed.

"We are very pleased that such an eminent person as Lord Grabiner has agreed to be the independent chairman. He will bring his undoubted experience and intellect to this very important role. His appointment clearly demonstrates that we are serious about putting things right that have gone wrong in the past."

The beefed up powers for the MSC comes amid calls for James Murdoch to stand down as chairman of Sky while the News International investigation is conducted.

The pay-TV giant is facing discontent among investors after £2.4 billion was wiped off its stock market value following the decision by News Corp to withdraw its takeover bid.

Shares in News Corp have dropped 4.3% in New York amid growing pressure over phone hacking. The company's share price in Sydney also fell by 7.6% to a two-year low.