New York Post Employees Told To ‘Preserve’ Documents Related To Phone Hacking

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Employees of the New York Post were instructed Friday to “preserve and maintain” any documents that may relate to the practice of phone hacking or bribing of public officials.

The legal department for News Corp, the Post‘s parent company, explained in a memo to Post staff that “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.”The legal team told employees that it “must preserve and maintain all documents and information” pertaining “to unauthorized retrieval of phone or personal data, to payments for information to government officials.”

The memo added that employees should “not destroy, discard, alter or change any potentially relevant documents as defined above, even if such documents or materials would otherwise be routinely discarded or destroyed in the ordinary course of your business.”

New York Post editor Col Allan sent a follow-up memo to employees explaining that “all New York Post employees have been asked to do this 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.”

“I am sorry for any inconvenience caused by this directive. However, given what has taken place in London, it is necessary for us to take this step,” he wrote.

According to the New York Times, journalists at the Wall Street Journal, another News Corp publication in the U.S., have not received similar instructions as of yet.

Though the memo specifies that there have not yet been allegations that phone hacking also took place at the Post, this is the latest move by News Corp to prepare for a possible investigation of its U.S. holdings in the wake of the scandal that has blown through its newspapers in Britain.

Recently the company began adding to its legal team in the U.S. — including an expert in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which prevents bribery of foreign officials. Several U.S. lawmakers have called on the Department of Justice and the SEC to investigate whether News Corp, which is based in the U.S., violated FCPA if its employees bribed Scotland Yard officials.

Last week, the DOJ reportedly started preparing subpoenas for preliminary investigations into News Corp. The FBI is already conducting a probe into allegations that News Of The World reporters asked a private investigator in New York to get the phone records of dead British victims of 9/11.

Here’s the full memo from New York Post editor Col Allan:

By now, you have received an email from News Corporation’s in-house legal counsel to preserve and maintain documents.

All New York Post employees have been asked to do this 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.

As we watched the news in the U.K. over the last few weeks, we knew that as a News Corporation 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.

I am sorry for any inconvenience caused by this directive. However, given what has taken place in London, it is necessary for us to take this step.

Let me say how grateful I am for the hard work and terrific reporting all of you do here each and every day. The New York Post has a proud history. We will also have a proud future.

Thank you for your professionalism and full cooperation in this matter.

And here’s the full letter from the legal department of News Corp.:

Dear New York Post Colleagues,

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 authorization, 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.

Here is what is required of you:

Any documents pertaining to unauthorized retrieval of phone or personal data, to payments for information to government officials, or that is related in any way to these issues, must be retained.

Please note that the term “documents” should be construed in its broadest sense, including but not limited to: written material, graphs, charts, files, e-mail, text messages, instant messages, any content in social media, voicemail, tape recordings, microfiche, video and film, handwritten notes, draft documents, memoranda, calendars, card files, appointment books, and the like whether in hard copy or on computer databases, hard drives, desk tops, laptops, thumb drives, disks, backup tapes, or any other storage medium, and regardless of whether the document is located on a company-issued or personal device. It also includes all copies of the same document.

The term “related in any way” should also be applied broadly. If you have any doubt whether a document should be preserved, you should err on the side of preserving it.

You do not need to collect relevant documents. However, if relevant documents are destroyed or otherwise made unavailable, it may prevent the New York Post from protecting its interests and subject you and individual officers or employees of the New York Post to severe sanctions. Any destruction of such documents or information, inadvertent or otherwise, should be reported to the Legal Department.

In sum, effective immediately, and until further notice, you and your staff must comply with the following directive: do not destroy, discard, alter or change any potentially relevant documents as defined above, even if such documents or materials would otherwise be routinely discarded or destroyed in the ordinary course of your business.

Finally, we understand your concerns over the protection of legitimate journalistic sources. We intend to protect from disclosure all legitimate and lawful journalistic sources in accordance with the law.

If you are unsure of the nature or extent of your responsibilities, or if you are aware of additional personnel to whom this memorandum should be sent, please contact Genie Gavenchak in News Corporation’s Legal Department.

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