Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rupert Murdoch set to testify on phone-hacking scandal

Murdochs, Brooks face questioning by lawmaker

Chief executive of News Corporation Europe and Asia, James Murdoch, arrives at the News International headquarters in London, Tuesday, July 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Chief executive of News Corporation Europe and Asia, James Murdoch, arrives at the News International headquarters in London, Tuesday, July 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
LONDON — Rupert Murdoch, his son James and the media mogul's former U.K. newspaper chief Rebekah Brooks face a grilling from lawmakers Tuesday about the intensifying phone hacking scandal, which has spread from Murdoch's media empire to the top ranks of U.K. police and even to the prime minister's office.
Former police chiefs Paul Stephenson and John Yates, who both resigned over allegations of too-close ties to Murdoch journalists, will also answer questions in Parliament in a separate, daylong hearing. Lawmakers will want to know about reports that police took bribes from journalists to provide inside information for tabloid scoops and why the London Metropolitan Police decided to shut down an earlier phone hacking probe after only two people were charged.
Prime Minister David Cameron cut short a visit to Africa and is expected to return to Britain for an emergency session Wednesday of Parliament on the scandal.
In a further twist, a former News of the World reporter Sean Hoare who helped blow the whistle on the scandal was found dead Monday in his home. Police said the death was "unexplained" but is not being treated as suspicious. A post-mortem was being conducted Tuesday. Hoare was in his late forties.
In the meantime, Brooks' spokesman, David Wilson, said police had been handed a bag containing a laptop and papers that belong to her husband, former racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks. Wilson said the bag did not contain anything related to the phone hacking scandal and he expected police to return it soon.
The bag was found dumped in an underground parking lot near the couple's home on Monday, but it was unclear how exactly it got there. Wilson said Tuesday that a friend of Charlie Brooks had meant to drop the bag off, but he would say only he left it in the "wrong place."
Murdoch shut down the News of the World tabloid that Brooks once edited after it was accused of hacking into the voice mail of celebrities, politicians, other journalists and even murder victims. Still, the closure has done little to end a string of revelations about the murky ties between British politics and the country's tabloid media.
The scandal has prompted the resignation and subsequent arrest of Brooks and the resignation of Wall Street Journal publisher Les Hinton, sunk Murdoch's dream of taking full control of lucrative satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting and raised questions about his ability to keep control of his global media empire.
At Tuesday's hearing, politicians will seek more details about the scale of criminality at the News of the World. The Murdochs will try to avoid incriminating themselves or doing more harm to their business without misleading Parliament, which is a crime.
Rupert Murdoch is eager to stop the crisis from spreading to the United States, where many of his most lucrative assets -- including the Fox TV network, 20th Century Fox film studio, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post -- are based.
In New York, News Corp. appointed commercial lawyer Anthony Grabiner to run its Management and Standards Committee, which will deal with the scandal. But News Corp. board member Thomas Perkins told The Associated Press that the 80-year-old Rupert Murdoch has the full support of the company's board of directors, and it was not considering elevating Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey to replace Murdoch as CEO of News Corp.
Britain's Independent Police Complaints Commission also is looking into the phone hacking and police bribery claims, including one that Yates inappropriately helped get a job for the daughter of a former News of the World executive editor, Neil Wallis. Wallis, who was hired as a PR consultant to the police, has been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications.Read more....

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