New York: Rupert Murdoch`s New York Post has ordered newsroom staff to keep all documents related to questionable reporting methods involving phone hacking or unlawful payments to government officials in light of the fire storm in the UK engulfing the newspaper`s owner, News Corp.
The company`s legal department said in a memo on Friday: "As you have undoubtedly seen, there have been press accounts of inquiries into whether employees or agents of News Corporation or its subsidiaries have (a) accessed telephone and/or other personal data of third-parties without authorisation, and/or (b) made unlawful payments to government officials in order to obtain information.”
"As you also know, these stem from the actions at The News of the World in London, as well as unsourced, unsubstantiated reports in one London tabloid.”
"Starting today, all employees must preserve and maintain all documents and information that are related in any way to the above mentioned issues.”
"Please know we are sending this notice not because any recipient has done anything improper or unlawful. However, given what has taken place in London, we believe that taking this step will help to underscore how seriously we are taking this matter."
News editor reassures staff
In a separate memo on Friday, the New York Post`s editor-in-chief, Colin Allan, told the staff they had been asked to save documents "in light of what has gone on in London at News of the World, and not because any recipient has done anything improper or unlawful”.
The memo went on to say: "As we watched the news in the UK over the last few weeks, we knew that as a News Corp tabloid, we would be looked at more closely. So this is not unexpected.”
"I want to stress that your full and absolute cooperation is necessary and you are expected to comply with this direction from our legal department.”
"At the same time, please know we understand and take very seriously your concerns over the protection of legitimate journalistic sources. While we have instituted this hold, we do intend to protect from disclosure all legitimate and lawful journalistic sources in accordance with the law."
News Corp declined to comment on the memos.
News Corp`s now defunct UK tabloid News of the World is at the centre of a bitter scandal in which the newspaper has been accused of hacking individual`s phones, including that of a teenage girl who was murdered.
The scandal has embroiled some of News Corp`s most senior executives, including Rupert Murdoch and his son James, and British politicians and police.
It has grown increasingly more serious since the beginning of July and has caused News Corp to drop its bid for the stake of British pay TV company BSkyB it does not already own.
Murdoch and his son James, News Corp`s deputy chief operating officer, have testified before a parliamentary committee regarding the phone hacking.
John Rockefeller, chairman of the US Senate commerce committee, has called for an investigation to determine if News Corp has broken any US laws and the FBI is investigating allegations News Corp might have hacked the phones of victims of the September 11 attacks in the United States.
Les Hinton, who was the chief executive of Dow Jones & Co, which publishes the Wall Street Journal, resigned his post on July 15. Hinton was head of News Corp`s British newspaper unit, News International, when phone hacking was said to have occurred.
Last week, Robert Thomson, managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, sent a memo to staff reminding them that the newsroom had set up a confidential hotline for any employee who was concerned about journalistic practices at Dow Jones.