News Corp and 21st Century Fox will not face charges in the U.S. over payments to officials or phone hacking, the U.S. Department of Justice has said.
The announcement, in a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) late on Monday, marks another turning point in the scandal, which led to the division of the News Corp empire into 21st Century Fox and News Corp, and one of Rupert Murdoch's top U.K. executives serving jail time.
The prospect of prosecution by U.S. authorities had loomed over the company ever since the scandal first broke, with the news that New Corp's now-defunct U.K. tabloid newspaper "News of the World" had tapped the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Millie Dowler. In the fallout from the scandal, News Corp was separated into its print operations, under the News Corp brand, and broadcasting, under the 21st Century Fox label.
Gerson Zweifach, general counsel of News Corp and 21st Century Fox, said in a statement that the companies had been told by the U.S. Department of Justice that it had "completed its investigation of voicemail interception and payments to public officials in London" and was "declining to prosecute either company."
In 2013 and 2014, Rebekah Brooks, former head of News International, News Corp's U.K. print operations, and Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World and chief communications adviser for U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, faced a seven-month-long trial over the phone-hacking scandal. Coulson was found guilty of one charge of conspiring to hack phones, while Brooks was cleared of all charges.
There are still four journalists from News Corp's "Sun" newspaper awaiting a re-trial in the U.K. over charges of making corrupt payments to public officials, after a jury failed to reach verdicts following a three-month trial.