New York Post staffers have been told to preserve any documents that may relate to phone hacking or payoffs to officials, as News Corp. prepares for a probe into its U.K. operations to reach across the Atlantic.
Post editor Col Allan sent a memo to staff Friday asking them to comply with the request from company lawyers.
Allan wrote that as the scandal at News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid unfolded in the U.K. “we knew that as a News Corporation tabloid, we would be looked at more closely.”
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder plans to meet on Aug. 24 with some 9/11 family members about an FBI inquiry into allegations that News of the World journalists attempted to bribe a former New York City policeman to get phone records of Sept. 11 victims.
The FBI probe is in its preliminary stages and it is unclear if it will look at News Corp. properties beyond the U.K. tabloid.
A News Corp. spokeswoman declined to comment further.
Allan told Post employees that the request was made “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.” In a separate communication, News Corp.’s lawyers told Post staffers that “given what has taken place in London, we believe that taking this step will help to underscore how seriously we are taking this matter.”
On Friday, the chair of the British parliamentary committee investigating the scandal said he was writing to News Corp.’s deputy chief operating officer, James Murdoch, as well as two former employees to gain clarity on a dispute over Murdoch’s testimony last week.
The dispute centered on when Murdoch, the son of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, was made aware of an email that indicated the practice of intercepting voicemails was widespread at the News of the World, which the company closed two weeks ago. Murdoch said he wasn’t aware of the email until late 2010. But two former News Corp. employees dispute his claim.
Over the last few weeks, details emerged that indicated the phone-hacking was much more widespread than once thought, and targeted not only celebrities and politicians but also a 13-year-old murdered girl.
On Thursday, a charity co-founded by Sara Payne, the mother of an 8-year-old girl murdered by a pedophile in 2000, said that Payne was also a target of a private detective employed by the shuttered tabloid, who was jailed for the hacking in 2007.
News Corp. owns the New York Post and The Wall Street Journal in the U.S., the Sun and Sunday Times in the U.K., more than 140 papers in Australia, as well as Fox News Channel, TV stations and the 20th Century Fox movie studio.