A U.S. federal judge dismissed a shareholder lawsuit against Rupert Murdoch and other executives of News Corp. alleging they withheld key information about the phone hacking scandal in Britain.
Judge Paul Gardephe dismissed the case, saying the allegedly false statements were made prior to the period in question in the suit. But he left the door open to an amended complaint.
“Nearly all of the purportedly false statements cited in the complaint were made prior to the start of the class period,” the judge wrote in the opinion, dated Monday and made public Tuesday.
The ruling said the plaintiffs, led by Avon Pension Fund, would have until April 30 to file an amended lawsuit.
The lawsuit filed in 2011 contended that Murdoch, his son James and others at News Corp. misled shareholders about the financial impact of the hacking scandal involving The Sun and the now-defunct newspaper News of the World.
Rebekah Brooks, a former top editor and executive at News Corp., was also named as a defendant.
Brooks is charged in Britain with conspiring in voicemail hacking, conspiring to bribe public officials and two counts of trying to cover up her alleged crimes.
Brooks denies conspiring to hack phones while she edited the News of the World between 2000 and 2003, specifically conspiring to illegally access the voicemails of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler, who was later found murdered.
The allegation in 2011 that Dowler was targeted proved the final straw in a slow drip of revelations about phone hacking at the News of the World, prompting Murdoch to summarily shut down the 168-year-old Sunday tabloid.
Brooks, once one of the most powerful women in British media and so close to Murdoch that commentators dubbed her his “fifth daughter,” is among three defendants facing charges of phone hacking.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]