LONDON — Rupert Murdoch’s former British security chief has broken the company’s code of silence to blow the whistle on what he describes as an “underhanded” media empire rife with “potential illegal activity.”
Mark Hanna was director of security for News U.K. (formerly News International) for six years, including at the height of the phone-hacking scandal. During that tumultuous period, he says he became extremely close to some of the company’s most senior executives, including Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson.
“Conversations took place, notes were taken and even confessions were made,” he said in a cellphone video uploaded to YouTube. “I intend to tell you everything that I know, which I’m sure will shock everybody.”
Hanna claims he came across potentially illegal activity from the moment he started work at the British arm of Murdoch’s media juggernaut.
“I aired my concerns to the relevant management but was always told to ignore things. As time went on, more issues came to light and again after reporting them and airing my concerns of potentially illegal activity, which are classed as protected disclosures, I was told just to carry them out without regard to who it involved,” he said.
Hanna was one of the seven defendants in last year’s phone-hacking trial, which heard that the now-defunct News of the World, formerly Murdoch’s biggest-selling newspaper, had illegally listened to voicemail messages of high-profile figures, from Prince William and Kate Middleton to Daniel Craig and Angelina Jolie.
The former head of security was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice after he was accused of helping to cover up the company’s illegal conduct. He was on paid leave during the trial, but News U.K. declared him redundant in January, giving him a $45,000 payoff.
He says he has been unable to find a new job because of the stigma associated with the hacking trial and heading up security at “one of the most hated organizations in the U.K., if not the world.”
“Even though I did nothing wrong, I’ve paid an enormous price. I’ve been told by leading industry figures that the risk to reputational damage is too great, that my standing in the security business is irreparable,” he said.
Hanna says he decided to speak out when it was confirmed that Brooks would return as chief executive of News U.K., just four years after she resigned over the hacking allegations and was gifted a $25 million payoff.
“As some have quoted, this is two fingers up to the nation and those that were victims to the company’s illegal activities,” he said.
“I’m now standing up against those that sit back and treat us all with contempt—the Murdochs and Brookses of the world. Very soon I intend to make it known just how underhanded they have been and despite whistleblowing by myself, they have ignored numerous warnings of potential illegal activity.”
It is unclear whether Hanna has retained primary evidence to back up his claims, but he promises to reveal more details soon.
Brooks was found not guilty of all charges during the hacking trial, but the company was found to have acted illegally under her control. Her reinstatement as chief executive this week angered many of the company’s victims.
Chris Bryant, the shadow secretary of state for culture, media, and sport, said it was appalling that Murdoch had disregarded public opinion so brazenly.
“This decision is ludicrously premature when the [Crown Prosecution Service] is still considering corporate charges against News Corp.,” he said. “It shows the utter contempt in which the Murdochs hold the British public.”