The British government wants some answers from News Corp. scion James Murdoch, accused of misleading Parliament earlier this week, and may call him back for another round of questioning.
Prime minister David Cameron, Chairman of Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee John Whittingdale and Labour Party member Tom Watson have all said Murdoch must answer more questions regarding possible misinformation he provided during three hours of questioning before the committee on Tuesday.
Read more about the News Corp. hacking scandal here
Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corp. International, told the parliamentary committee that he was unaware of an e-mail — now dubbed the “Neville” email — that implicates more News of the World employees in hacking. If Murdoch was indeed aware of the email – as his former executives have since alleged — it would also suggest that an out of court settlement paid to Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Assn., was related to that knowledge.
The email, which included transcripts of hacked conversations, is named after former News of the World reporter Neville Thurlbeck, who was its intended recipient.
Murdoch has stood by his testimony despite allegations by Colin Myler, former editor of the News of the World, and Tom Crone, who until recently served as legal counsel for News International.
Myler and Crone said Murdoch was "mistaken" when he said he was unaware of the e-mail at the time of the settlement, and have since reiterated that claim in spite of the trouble it could cause their former boss.
In the wake of these allegations, Cameron has said Murdoch needs to answer more questions from MPs. The Labour Party’s Watson, who may have been hacked himself, has called for a police inquiry into this specific matter. He told the BBC “this is the most significant moment of two years of investigation into phone hacking.”
Whittingdale has said his committee will write to Murdoch next week asking him to answer more questions.
In yet one more sign of the scandal’s broadening reach, Will Lewis, a senior News Corp. executive, is also in hot water over some questionable journalistic tactics. Lewis is being accused of leaking information from the Telegraph, where he once worked, to aid News Corp.’s attempted purchase of British broadcaster BSkyB.
The BBC is reporting that Kroll, a leading corporate private investigations firm, believes that Lewis and another former Telegraph employee leaked unpublished excerpts of England’s Business Secretary Vince Cable declaring a metaphorical war on News Corp. Cable’s comments ended his oversight of the deal, in which News Corp. was vying to buy the remaining 61 percent of BSkyB.
The deal has since been shelved as a result of the phone hacking scandal.
If Lewis’ role in this can be proved, it would again undermine News Corp.’s claims that the hacking was an act of a rogue newspaper. Lewis is not only a top executive at News Corp., but he recently became a member of News Corp.’s management and standards committee, which is overseeing an internal inquiry into the hacking.