12 Jul 2011

Tabloid phone-hacking scandal widens

2:03 pm on 12 July 2011

The scandal that last week forced Rupert Murdoch's News International media empire to shut down one of its tabloid papers has widened.

Allegations have surfaced that the News of the World newspaper may have bribed a police protection officer to get private contact details of the British royal family.

As the reports emerged, a BBC investigation revealed that another Murdoch-owned paper, the Sunday Times, is alleged to have unlawfully obtained private financial information about the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Mr Brown believes a third Murdoch-owned paper, the Sun, may have obtained confidential medical records about his son, Fraser. In 2006, the paper revealed he was suffering from cystic fibrosis.

In a statement, News International said: "We note the allegations made today concerning the reporting of matters relating to Gordon Brown. So that we can investigate these matters further, we ask that all information concerning these allegations is provided to us."

The company, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, owns the Sun and the Sunday Times, and also owned the News of the World which was shut last week amid allegations of phone-hacking and illegal payments to police officers.

Meanwhile, shares in British broadcaster BSkyB fell more than 4% after Rupert Murdoch's $US14 billion takeover bid was referred to the UK's Competition Commission.

The move follows News Corp's withdrawal of its proposed undertaking to spin off Sky News as part of its attempt to take over the broadcaster.