mercoledì 14 settembre 2011

British Hacking Inquiry to Recall James Murdoch

A parliamentary panel investigating the phone hacking scandal in the British outpost of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire said on Tuesday that it would recall his son James Murdoch to answer more questions about his knowledge of the affair. John Whittingdale, the committee chairman, told Sky News that Mr. Murdoch would be recalled after the House of Commons select committee investigating the scandal heard testimony from Les Hinton, a former top executive at the Murdoch family’s News Corporation. Mr. Hinton, who had become the chairman of Dow Jones when it was acquired by News Corporation, was News Corporation’s most senior executive to quit as the hacking scandal unfolded. While Mr. Whittingdale said that he expected James Murdoch to appear at the inquiry for a second hearing. “My understanding is that he is willing to cooperate with all of the various inquiries which are under way,” Mr. Whittingdale said, referring to James Murdoch. “It may be that he just says he disagrees, but it would be helpful to hear that directly from him.” Mr. Whittingdale said there were “a lot of loose ends.” A spokesman for News Corporation said Mr. Murdoch was “happy to appear” to answers any questions the committee might have. The scandal over unlawful intercepts of voice mail has been rumbling for several years but it sharpened with reports earlier this year that The News of the World tabloid ordered the hacking of the phone of Milly Dowler, an abducted teenager who was later found murdered. The revelation ignited huge public revulsion — a sentiment likely to be rekindled with a legal case brought by the mother of a victim of the London bombings of July 7, 2005. The mother, Sheila Henry, said she had been told by the police that a private investigator working for the tabloid had tried to hack her son’s voice mail after the attacks, in which four suicide bombers killed 52 people. A high court judge ruled on Tuesday that he would hear her accusations as one of five major cases among civil suits being brought against the newspaper over phone hacking. Tom Watson, a member of the parliamentary panel investigating the hacking scandal said that, if the accusation proved true, the memories of victims of the bombings had been “insulted in a callous and inhuman way,” British news reports said. The Guardian newspaper said it was believed that Ms. Henry left voice messages for her son, Christian Small, when she was trying to discover her son’s whereabouts after the bombing. The parliamentary panel questioned both Rupert and James Murdoch in mid-July and resumed with fresh intensity a week ago when two former senior employees spoke about a meeting that parliamentary investigators have identified as a critical milestone in efforts by News Corporation executives to contain the scandal. The two former executives said at a parliamentary hearing that they had informed James Murdoch, chief of News Corporation’s European and Asian operations, at a 15-minute meeting in London in 2008 that the hacking of voice mail as a reporting tool went beyond the work by a lone “rogue” reporter and a private investigator that the company had acknowledged at the time. The men said they had conveyed that message as part of a plan to win Mr. Murdoch’s backing for a record $1.4 million settlement that bound a hacking victim to silence about his case. The former executives — Tom Crone, former legal manager for the Murdoch-owned newspapers in Britain, and Colin Myler, former editor of the defunct News of the World — said the settlement had been intended to avoid millions in legal costs, but several members of Parliament suggested that it was part of a cover-up intended to buy the hacking victim’s silence and prevent the scandal from spreading. Committee members have said that, in recalling James Murdoch, they will focus on determining whether he testified truthfully in July when he said that there was no indication at the 2008 meeting of a pattern of wrongdoing at The News of the World, which was closed as a result of the scandal. James Murdoch has denied that he was told that the hacking involved more than a single case that resulted in two men — reporter Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire — going to jail in 2007. In a statement, he rejected the assertions by Mr. Crone and Mr. Myler that they had told him of an internal e-mail from the tabloid’s archive — one showing that the phone hacking had been more widespread and posed a far more serious threat financially and legally — that justified a payout that would serve to contain the damage. Mr. Whittingdale, the committee chairman, said there were “questions arising from the time when payments were made to Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire.” “We’re also interested in hearing a bit more from the solicitors on some conflicting accounts,” he said, referring to lawyers involved in the case. “And I think we will have some more questions based upon what we have heard that we want to put to James Murdoch.” nytime

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