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May 23, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Jude Law

Did executives at the very top level of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp know about the illegal voicemail hacking that was taking place at the company’s London tabloid News of the World? Perhaps Murdoch himself? A judge hearing a number of test invasion-of-privacy cases has said that he will take evidence of possible senior-executive knowledge of the admitted hacking in deciding damages in those cases. His announcement during a pre-trial hearing came after an attorney representing actor Jude Law indicated that he intends to present evidence that a “very senior News of the World executive” was involved in the voicemail hacking. The judge, Geoffrey Vos, indicated that he intends to look into evidence gathered by a handful of plaintiffs and by Scotland Yard that persons at “the highest level” of News Corp may have encouraged the illegal activity. “It is one thing for a journalist to say, ‘I am desperate to get a story’ and another for a chief executive to say, ‘I want to get greater profits by obtaining stories by using illegal means.'” Senior executives throughout Murdoch’s media empire, including Murdoch himself, have continued to deny that they had any knowledge of the hacking and initially insisted that the activity was carried out by one “rogue” reporter, working with a private detective. Besides Law, the other test cases involve soccer commentator Andy Gray; Kelly Hoppen, a celebrity interior designer and the stepmother of actress Sienna Miller, who recently settled her claim against the tabloid for £100,000 (about $160,000); Sky Andrew, a sports agent whose clients include Hoppen’s former boyfriend, Sol Campbell; and former Labor Party minister Chris Bryant.