The price of failure?

Jul 18 2011 by Brian Amble Print This Article

As the slow-motion implosion of the Murdoch media empire continues to pile drama upon crisis upon plot-twist, it's nice to see that some things never change. Yes, as far as senior executives are concerned, it doesn't matter how catastrophic your failure or how damaging the consequences of your actions have been for others: you'll still walk away with a seven-figure payoff.

The Daily Mail reports that Rebekah Brooks, News International's disgraced chief executive – who was arrested at the weekend as part of the investigation into phone tapping and payments to police – can expect to walk away with a severance package of up to £3.5 million ($ 5.6m) - regardless of what happens to her or what it transpires she did or didn't do – and regardless, too, of the fact that since the scandal began to unfold, more than £4 billion has been wiped off the value of the News International.

The company's recently-departed lawyers, Jon Chapman and Tom Crone - will each get about £1.5m ($ 2.4 million), the report suggests, while the departing editor of the now-defunct News of the World newspaper, Colin Myler, is understood to be in line for a £2m pay-off.

Factor in the payout to 50-year News International veteran, Les Hinton (who was Chief Executive of News International's UK newspapers at the time phone hacking was allegedly endemic), and we're looking at more than £10m – although this may be a small price to pay since, as the as the Daily Mail notes, the settlements will include strict gagging orders to stop them discussing company affairs outside public inquiry or criminal proceedings.

How these payouts compare to the treatment of the hundreds of former News of the World staffers who look set to lose their jobs remains to be seen.

Still, they might take some comfort from the fact that – as the New York Times pithily put it - 'some mistakes don't stay buried, no matter how much money you throw at them'.