News Corp. for First Time Details Tabloid Bribe for Story on Child Killer - Bloomberg
News Corp. (NWSA) for the first time publicly detailed bribery by a journalist at its now-defunct News of the World, telling a court that a former editor agreed to pay a prison guard to get a story about a child killer.
Matt Nixson, a features editor for five years at the paper, told a reporter in a March 7, 2009, e-mail to pay 750 pounds ($1,150) to the guard for details about a man who murdered two girls. Nixson then said to “chuck her some more money later,” since she wanted 1,000 pounds, News Corp. said in court papers filed Dec. 13 in London and made public yesterday.
The disclosure is part of the company’s defense in Nixson’s lawsuit claiming he was wrongfully fired from News Corp.’s Sun tabloid, where he last worked, as the company sought to contain a phone-hacking scandal. News Corp. closed the News of the World in July after it was revealed it hacked into the voice mail of a different murdered schoolgirl in 2002.
Nixson “was guilty of gross misconduct, or at any rate, conduct justifying dismissal without notice or pay,” members of the company’s Management and Standards Committee, which is running the investigation, said in the court filing.
Alison Downie of Goodman Derrick LLP in London, Nixson’s lawyer, said in an e-mailed statement that “my client wishes to make it absolutely clear that he neither bribed, nor ever admitted to bribing a prison officer” and will continue to pursue his claims against the company and committee.
At least eight people, including a serving police officer, have been arrested as part of the Metropolitan Police’s probe into journalists bribing police. Nixson wasn’t one of them.
Nixson, who was fired in July, knew bribing the guard was wrong because he told the reporter, Matthew Acton, to arrange the payment “very carefully,” since the company had a “forensic new accountant who doesn’t brook any funny business,” according to the filing.