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July 20, 2011 6:53 PM

With Internal Probe, FCPA in Mind, News Corp. Adds More Lawyers

Posted by Tom Huddleston Jr.

Rupert Murdoch and his son James may have survived Tuesday's Parliamentary committee hearings more or less unscathed, but they and others affiliated with News Corporation are far from done facing tough questions. And that means the media conglomerate's legal team continues to swell.

Debevoise & Plimpton confirmed Wednesday that News Corp.'s independent directors have hired the firm to provide oversight of a management and standards committee that will review the ongoing phone-hacking and bribery scandal that has roiled the company.

Partners Mary Jo White and Michael Mukasey are to lead the firm's efforts advising the independent directors. White, who chairs Debevoise's litigation department, is the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Mukasey served as U.S. attorney general under George W. Bush and was, as Bloomberg notes, hired by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce earlier this year to lobby Congress in favor of weakening the impact of foreign bribery laws on companies.

News Corp. has also hired Washington, D.C., litigator Mark Mendelsohn of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, an expert on the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), according to The Wall Street Journal. Mendelsohn joined Paul, Weiss last year after leaving the U.S. Department of Justice, where he played a key role in the government's current FCPA enforcement program.

White, Mukasey, and Mendelsohn join a lengthy list of lawyers representing various interests in the News Corp. scandal as speculation begins to brew that the Justice Department could be eyeing FCPA charges against the company. The law could come into play because News Corp. is based in the United States and its employees are alleged to have bribed U.K. officials and police for access to news stories.

Alleged victims of the scandal are also seeking representation, including actor Hugh Grant--who won a court order that requires London police to hand over any evidence that would prove his voicemails were hacked by either the News of the World or other newspapers, according to Bloomberg. The British actor is represented by David Sherborne, a media and entertainment barrister at 5RB in London.

Even as News Corp. grows its stable of lawyers, it remains at odds with Harbottle & Lewis, a former counsel to News International, its U.K. subsidiary. The company has publicly accused Harbottle of botching an initial investigation into the events at the heart of scandal, according to LegalWeek. Harbottle refuted the accusation. News International denied Harbottle's request to waive client confidentiality that the firm said would clarify its role in the controversy.

Some members of Parliament have called for Harbottle lawyers to testify about their role in the 2007 investigation, which was roundly criticized during Tuesday's hearings.

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