Phone hacking scandal hangs over Sky deal

RUPERT Murdoch’s planned takeover of BSkyB should not be affected by his UK news arm admitting a long-running phone hacking scandal, politicians said yesterday, but the scandal threatened to overshadow the prospective deal.

News International, parent company of the News of the World tabloid, said on Friday it would admit liability and pay compensation in some civil cases, and issued a statement on page two of yesterday’s paper.

It was an about-turn from the media group’s previous denial that it knew journalists were accessing voicemail messages of the royal family, politicians, celebrities and sports stars.

Some critics said the admission raised questions about News Corp’s £8.5bn planned purchase of BSkyB, which is set to be given the green light by culture secretary Jeremy Hunt in the next few weeks.

But the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said that while police investigations must continue into “a serious scandal”, it did not raise questions over the deal. “The decision about BSkyB and News Corp is something which is being considered completely separately,” he told the BBC.