News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch indicated in a secretly recorded meeting that he knew his journalists were bribing public officials, according to a report on ExaroNews, an investigative website based in the U.K.
During a meeting in March at News U.K.'s headquarters in London, Murdoch met with nearly two dozen executives and reporters from The Sun, who had been arrested by detectives over allegations of illegal news-gathering practices, including paying police officers and other public officials for information, according to the transcript.
Murdoch indicates that the bribing of public officials was widespread across national newspapers in the U.K.
At one point, according to the transcript, Murdoch says, "We're talking about payments for news tips from cops: that's been going on a hundred years, absolutely. You didn't instigate it."
Later, Murdoch hints that he was aware of bribery at the now-shuttered tabloid News of the World, which closed two years ago in the wake of a phone-hacking scandal.
Murdoch recounted, "I remember when I first bought the News of the World, the first day I went to the office…and there was a big wall-safe…And I said, 'What's that for?' And they said, 'We keep some cash in there.' And I said, 'What for?' [They said,] 'Well, sometimes the editor needs some on Saturday night for powerful friends. And sometimes the chairman is doing badly at the tables and he helps himself.'"
That chairman was the late Sir William Carr, who was in charge before Murdoch took over in 1969, Exaro reports.
Exaro published a full transcript of the exchanges between Murdoch and his staff, redacting a few passages for legal reasons.
News Corp. said in a statement, "No other company has done as much to identify what went wrong, compensate the victims, and ensure the same mistakes do not happen again. The unprecedented co-operation granted by News Corp was agreed unanimously by senior management and the board, and the [internal management and standards committee] continues to co-operate under the supervision of the courts. Rupert Murdoch has shown understandable empathy with the staff and families affected and will assume they are innocent until and unless proven guilty."