U.K. police probes Times allegations

Murdoch may cut ties with U.K papers

LONDON — The Times, part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Intl. stable, is being probed by police over email hacking allegations.

This is according to a tweet from Tom Watson, a British pol who has been instrumental in exposing widespread phone hacking at the now defunct Sunday paper, the News of the World.

The move follows an admission by the editor of the Times, James Harding, that one of its journalist hacked a police blogger’s email.

Watson said on Twitter: “The Met police have confirmed to me they are investigating newspaper the Times over email hacking.”

The Times is the third Murdoch paper to face allegations of illegal activity.

The News of the World was shuttered last summer when it emerged that hacked cell-phone messages extended beyond celebrities.

On Saturday four senior journalists from the Sun, Blighty’s biggest-selling paper, were arrested as part of police investigations into hacking and police corruption.

The involvement of the Times escalates the scandal that continues to cause acute discomfort to News Corp.

As a broadsheet paper, the Times enjoys a reputation for exacting journalism that is of a different order to the “red-top” tabloids like the Sun, so called because of their red mastheads.

The Times has gone out of its way to criticize phone hacking in its coverage.

There is now speculation that Murdoch has, as one media commentator put it, “cut off emotional ties” to Wapping, the East London home of his British papers.

As evidence that he has frozen out News Intl., insiders stress the growing power of the Management and Standards Committee, set up by Murdoch last summer to probe allegations of criminality at the company.

The MSC reports to News Corp. board member Viet Dinh via Joel Klein, a key Murdoch adviser.

The future of the Sun may be in doubt if it becomes too publicly entangled in the hacking saga.

Roy Greenslade, a former Sun assistant editor in the 1980s now turned media commentator, said Wednesday, “Sun journalists now fear…that Murdoch might be willing to let their newspaper go.”

Unlike the Times, the Sun is a profitable paper — but that didn’t save the equally profitable News of the World.

News Intl.’s other U.K. title is the Sunday Times, which so far remains untainted by the scandal.