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News Corporation has been exposed as a member of a controversial lobby group linked to attempts to weaken laws on the bribery of British police officers. The corporation is a full member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), home to numerous corporations campaigning against the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act — under which the Department of Justice are investigating alleged bribery of the Met Police by the News of the World.

The News of the World ordered its reporters to dig up dirt on the private lives of MPs on a committee investigating the phone hacking scandal as part of a campaign by Rupert Murdoch’s News International to thwart their inquiries, a new book on the saga claims.

The News of the World ordered it reporters to dig up dirt on the private lives of MPs on a committee investigating the phone hacking scandal as part of a campaign by Rupert Murdoch’s News International to thwart their inquiries, a new book on the saga claims.

Neville Thurlbeck, the former chief reporter on the defunct Sunday tabloid, said that in 2009 an “edict” was delivered from a senior member of editorial staff to find out “every single thing” about the members of the House of Common’s media select committee and that a team of six journalists was established to carry out the operation.

Mr Thurlbeck, who has been arrested in connection with phone hacking, said: “An edict came down… and it was [to] find out every single thing you can about every single member: who was gay, who had affairs, anything we can use.”

The incendiary claim that the paper at the heart of the voicemail interception revelations that have tainted the Murdoch empire set out to undermine MPs investigating it is contained in Dial M for Murdoch, a book about the scandal by Labour MP Tom Watson, a member of the media committee and key campaigner on phone hacking, and Martin Hickman, an award-winning journalist on The Independent.

At a Westminster launch of the title, Mr Watson said News Corporation was a “toxic institution” and that the alleged campaign intimidation had been successful and was part of a wider attempt to cover up the hacking scandal by the Murdoch empire.  He said: “I am sorry to say that this tactic was successful, the committee’s legitimate investigation was undermined and Parliament was, in effect, intimidated.

“News International thought they could do this, that they could get away with it, that no-one could touch them; and they actually did it, and it worked.”

He added: “We conclude that the web of influence which News Corporation spun in Britain, which effectively bent politicians, police and many others in public life to its will, amounted to a shadow state.”

In further allegations, the book claims:

:: The office of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks was being bugged in June 2011, shortly before she resigned following the revelation that the NOTW had hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

:: On his release from prison, Glenn Mulcaire, the convicted hacker at the centre of the story, allegedly went to work for a private security consultancy headed by Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police commissioner.

:: New International ran an e-mail server at its Wapping headquarters where emails deleted from its main server were stored.  The alleged existence of this server was revealed to Mr Watson, who passed this information to Scotland Yard in 2010.

:: Mr Watson was approached by alleged intermediaries from NI with a “deal” in which they would “give him” former NOTW editor and Downing Street press chief Andy Coulson but that Ms Brooks was “sacred”. The same intermediaries are said to have  offered the MP a meeting with Rupert Murdoch, who was said to want to “square off these difficulties and put matters right”. Mr Watson says he refused the deal.

Rupert Murdoch has been on better terms with more prime ministers than anyone else alive. He had so much to offer by way of influence and contacts the world over – at least until the hacking scandal flooded his empire – and if a politician wanted to meet him in private he did not let his love of news get the better of discretion.

On 12 February 1981, Mr Murdoch was allowed to double the number of national newspapers he owned, by adding The Times and The Sunday Times to The Sun and the News of the World. It was normal practice for any bid for a national newspaper to be held up while the Monopolies Commission investigated, but in this case Margaret Thatcher’s government overrode objections from Labour and waved it through. Mrs Thatcher reaped the political rewards for the remainder of her time in office.

It could have been embarrassing for the Prime Minister if there had been any suggestion she had privately colluded with Mr Murdoch to ease his bid – but that was specifically denied in The History of the Times: the Murdoch Years, written by a Times journalist, Graham Stewart, and published in 2005 by Mr Murdoch’s company, HarperCollins.

There was it was asserted: “In 1981, Margaret Thatcher and Rupert Murdoch scarcely knew one another and had no communication whatsoever during the period in which The Times bid and referral was up for discussion.”

Documents being released on Monday by the Margaret Thatcher Archive demonstrate that they did indeed meet.

James Murdoch has stepped down as chairman of News International, the publisher of the Sun and Times, in an internal News Corporationreshuffle.

Wednesday’s move sees him give up responsibility for News Corp’s crisis-hit British newspaper operation as he completes his relocation to New York.

The man once seen as his father Rupert Murdoch’s automatic heir at the top of News Corp retains existing responsibility for “global television”, overseeing busineses including the company’s 39% stake in BSkyB, Sky-branded pay-TV companies in Europe and Star in Asia – and only gains the opportunity to become involved with the company’s US Fox television operation as he settles in across the Atlantic.

James Murdoch’s managerial move away from News International explains why he was not in London to help oversee the launch of the Sun’s Sunday edition, which has been personally supervised by his father.

Friends say he has been eager to leave the UK and drop responsibility for the Wapping newspapers for several months as the phone hacking scandal enveloped the London outpost of the organisation.

He has faced repeated questions over what he knew about the extent of phone-hacking at the News of the World.

Although the hacking is known to have gone on until 2006, before Murdoch arrived, he presided over a period in 2009 and 2010 where News International denied again and again that phone-hacking was more widespread than the activities of a “single rogue” reporter.

A man at the centre of allegations that computers were hacked for the News of the World has been convicted of conspiring to illegally access private information for profit.

Until Monday legal restrictions meant that what is known about Philip Campbell Smith’s alleged involvement in computer hacking could not be reported.

Smith is alleged to have hacked the computer of a former British army intelligence officer in 2006 as part of a commission from the News of the World. In a tape recording, Smith says he was in contact with Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor who went on to become David Cameron’s director of communications. Smith also claimed Coulson was in his mobile phone directory.

Labour MP Clare Short first protested against page 3 girls in 1986 and was still under attack in 2004. During the recent Leveson Inquiry Sun editor tried to distance himself and the previous editor from these attacks (full transcript, see page 119).

However Tim Ireland looked up the original 2004 item and points out that the then editor Rebekah Wade/Brooks would have OKed numerous personal attacks such as this;