One trusts The Wall Street Journal’s Bancroft family has been reassured about News Corp’s corporate character by official confirmation that lying for Rupert’s commercial interests is perfectly acceptable behaviour. Now where’s that promise about maintaining editorial integrity…

It should come as no surprise to anyone, but it’s nice to get it on the record. This morning The SMH’s Liz Sexton adds to the bulging file with a very nice little scoop confirming Justice Sackville’s worst suspicions about News Corp’s ethics.

While most of the rocks in Sackville’s C7 judgement were aimed at Kerry Stokes, the judge also was scathing about News’ in-house lawyer Ian Philip lying to Telstra in order to squeeze more money out of News’ Foxtel partner.

“If, in the meantime, News has taken no action against Mr Philip in respect of his admitted dishonesty, it would reflect very seriously indeed on News’ standards of commercial morality,” Mr Justice Sackville opined.

News Ltd chairman John Hartigan immediately leapt to Philip’s defence.

“News conducted its own thorough investigation of Mr Philip’s conduct,” Mr Hartigan said.

“Mr Philip enjoys the full support of News Corporation management.”

We have never doubted the sentiment of the second sentence – anyone who puts Rupert’s financial interests before truth is bound to be appreciated – but I’m not so sure about the first line.

Ms Sexton has unearthed a transcript of Ian Philip’s evidence in an US court that might suggest no-one at News ever gave a damn. She reports:

After agreeing he had had trouble sleeping after lying to Telstra, Mr Philip said he had not suffered any symptoms of stress.

“From a business perspective, did anyone at News Corp say, you know what, we need to talk, we may have some issues about how you handled these negotiations?” asked Mr Grant.

“No,” Mr Philip replied.

“Did anyone at News Corp whatsoever raise any issue with regard to the ethics of you lying to people in negotiations or destroying documents?”

“Not that I recall.”

Gee, it must have been a very thorough investigation if no-one even talked the bloke being investigated.

But maybe Harto is telling the truth – trouble is, you just can’t tell with News Corp.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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