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Developments in British phone-hacking scandal

Associated Press Modified: August 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm •  Published: August 15, 2012
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Britain's phone-hacking scandal erupted last summer after it emerged that journalists at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World routinely eavesdropped on cellphones' voicemail boxes in order to score scoops.

The probe has since grown to include allegations of computer hacking and bribe-paying across the British media — and beyond.

Here are key developments in that scandal:

November 2005: News of the World royal reporter Clive Goodman writes story saying Prince William has a knee injury. Buckingham Palace complaint prompts police inquiry.

August 2006: Goodman arrested along with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire for suspected hacking into voicemails of royal officials.

January 2007: Goodman jailed for four months; Mulcaire given six-month sentence. News of the World editor Andy Coulson resigns but insists he had not known about the hacking.

May 2007: Conservative Party leader David Cameron taps Coulson to be his media adviser.

July 2009: Coulson tells parliamentary committee he never "condoned use of phone hacking."

February 2010: Parliamentary committee finds no evidence that Coulson knew about phone hacking but states it's "inconceivable" that no one apart from Goodman knew about it.

May 2010: Cameron becomes prime minister; Coulson named communications chief.

Jan. 14, 2011: British police reopen investigation into phone-hacking charges against News of the World.

Jan. 21: Coulson resigns from Cameron's office amid claims he had sanctioned phone hacking. Coulson continues to deny any wrongdoing or any knowledge of hacking.

April 5: Police arrest two journalists, including Ian Edmondson, the tabloid's former news editor, on suspicion of intercepting voicemails. More than a dozen arrests of journalists and some police would follow in the coming months as inquiries into phone hacking and police corruption continued.

April 8: News of the World admits it was responsible for phone hacking and says it will set up a compensation plan to deal with claims fairly and efficiently. It was the newspaper's first admission of liability.

April 15: Judge allows actress Sienna Miller and three others to proceed with lawsuits against the newspaper despite an ongoing criminal investigation.

May 13: Miller's lawyer says lawsuit settled for 100,000 pounds (about $165,000 at the time). Since then, News International has reached settlements with several others to avoid trials.

June 30: British regulators give News Corp. tentative approval to take full control of satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting.

July 4: The Guardian newspaper reports that News of the World journalists hacked into voicemails left for murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, and gave her parents and police false hope she was alive by deleting messages when the mailbox became full.

July 7: News International shuts down the best-selling News of the World tabloid after 168 years, effective July 10.

July 8: Coulson and two other men are arrested in the widening police inquiry.

July 11: News Corp. withdraws offer to spin off Sky News in attempt to save bid for complete control of satellite broadcaster BSkyB. British media report that two other News Corp. newspapers in Britain engaged in hacking, deception and privacy violations that included accessing former Prime Minister Gordon Brown's bank account information and stealing the medical records of his seriously ill baby son.

July 13: News Corp. pulls its bid to take full control of BSkyB.

July 15: Resignations of Rebekah Brooks, the chief of News Corp.'s British operations, and Les Hinton, publisher of Dow Jones & Co. and one of Murdoch's staunchest allies. Hinton was chairman of News International during some of the time phone hacking took place. Murdoch meets with Milly Dowler's family to apologize.

July 16: News Corp. apologizes in newspaper ads for "serious wrongdoing" at the News of the World.

July 17: Brooks is arrested in scandal. London police chief Paul Stephenson resigns amid criticism over his alleged links to Neil Wallis, a former News of the World executive editor arrested in the scandal. Murdoch publishes another ad, titled "Putting right what's gone wrong."

July 18: London police assistant commissioner John Yates resigns. He made the decision two years earlier not reopen police inquiry into phone hacking — a decision he said he would have made differently with the benefit of hindsight.

July 19: Murdoch appears at a parliamentary hearing alongside his son James and says he was humbled and ashamed, but accepted no responsibility for wrongdoing. James Murdoch, executive chairman of the British newspaper unit, apologizes, but denies he knew hacking was widespread at News of the World.

July 21: James Murdoch's former legal adviser and a former editor contest his testimony.

Aug. 24: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder calls a report of possible phone hacking targeting 9/11 victims and their families very disturbing and says the department is pursuing a preliminary criminal investigation.

Sept. 2: Long-time independent board member Thomas Perkins announces he is leaving News Corp.'s board of directors, but he cites his upcoming 80th birthday and not the scandal.

Sept. 6: Four former News International executives challenge statements made to Parliament by Rupert and James Murdoch. One says Rupert Murdoch wrongly blamed outside lawyers for improperly investigating his company's phone hacking scandal.

Oct. 21: Rupert Murdoch faces disgruntled investors at the company's annual shareholders meeting. He defends his handling of the scandal and deflects any notion that he plans to step down soon.

Oct. 24: News Corp. discloses that more than a third of the ballots cast oppose the re-election of Rupert Murdoch's sons James and Lachlan to the company's board of directors.

Nov. 1: Documents show a legal adviser to the company's newspapers warned three years earlier that there was overwhelming evidence that several senior journalists at the News of the World were using illegal methods. The documents bolster claims that high-ranking executives were aware that phone hacking was more widespread than they let on.

Nov. 10: James Murdoch returns to Parliament. He insists he hadn't been told of widespread phone hacking and blames two of his senior lieutenants for failing to warn him of a culture of criminality.

Nov. 14: Opening of a media-ethics inquiry set up by Britain's prime minister. The two-part inquiry was tasked with investigating the role of the press and police in the phone-hacking scandal.

Nov. 24: Miller, the actress, tells the media-ethics inquiry that she was left paranoid and scared by years of relentless tabloid pursuit that ranged from paparazzi outside her house to the hacking of her mobile phone.

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