U.S. drops News Corp phone hacking probe

Murdoch's News Corp. and 21st Century Fox each said they would face no prosecution from the Justice Department

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U.S. authorities have decided not to pursue criminal charges in connection with the phone-hacking scandal involving Rupert Murdoch's media empire in Britain, his companies said Monday.

In statements filed with U.S. regulators, Murdoch's News Corp. and 21st Century Fox each said they would face no prosecution from the Justice Department.

Using identical language, the two statements said the Justice Department "has completed its investigation of voicemail interception and payments to public officials in London and is declining to prosecute" either firm.

The scandal which erupted in 2011 led to the closure of Murdoch's News of the World after revelations that the tabloid had accessed the voice mails of a murdered schoolgirl, Milly Dowler.

In the wake of the scandal and the subsequent investigations in Britain, Murdoch split his empire into two entities -- News Corp. focusing on newspapers and publishing, and 21st Century Fox specializing in TV and film.

The scandal has led to tens of millions of dollars in legal costs for the companies, including damages paid to victims.

Murdoch's British media units have faced intense pressure following revelations that the hacking extended to celebrities including Prince William and Prince Harry, and actors Jude Law and Sienna Miller.

Andy Coulson, the former British newspaper editor and one-time communications chief of Prime Minister David Cameron, served less than five months of an 18-month prison sentence after he was found guilty of conspiring to intercept voice mails.

But Former Murdoch protege Rebekah Brooks, another key editor for the media group, was cleared of the charges last June.

News Corp. operates The Sun and the Times of London, along with the U.S.-based Wall Street Journal and newspapers in Australia.

Murdoch's 21st Century Fox includes the well-known Hollywood Fox studio and television operations and owns a stake in the Sky satellite broadcaster.

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