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Murdoch has publicly stood by her even while closing down News of the World in response to the allegations. Brooks has denied knowledge of any wrongdoing.

Media watchers accuse Murdoch of offering up the more than 200 News of the World journalists as a sacrifice to save Brooks.

A spokeswoman for Brown said Monday that the former prime minister was shocked by the alleged “criminality and the unethical means by which personal details have been obtained” about his family.

His wife, Sarah, tweeted that the information was very personal and it was “really hurtful if all true.”

News International spokeswoman Daisy Dunlop said the company had taken note of the accusations and that in order to investigate the company asks “that all information concerning these allegations is provided to us.”

Other newspapers reported that Brown’s bank account was broken into by a con man acting for Murdoch’s Sunday Times.

The Evening Standard report said that News Corp. executives discovered a series of e-mails indicating that Murdoch employees made payments to members of Scotland Yard’s royal and diplomatic protection squad in return for details about the queen and her entourage.

The Evening Standard cited unidentified “sources” without saying how they would be in a position to know. Buckingham Palace declined comment on the reports.

“The events of last week shocked the nation,” Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt told lawmakers Monday. He said Britain’s proud press tradition had been “shaken by the revelation of what we now know to have happened at the News of The World.”

The 80-year-old Murdoch arrived in the U.K. on Sunday to take charge of the widening crisis.

Legal experts said Monday it is possible Murdoch’s U.S. companies might face legal actions because of the shady practices at the News of the World, his now defunct British tabloid. In the U.S., Murdoch owns Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, among other holdings.

They said Murdoch’s News Corp. might be liable to criminal prosecution under the 1977 Corrupt Foreign Practices Act, a broad act designed to prosecute executives who bribe foreign officials in exchange for large contracts.

A group of News Corp. shareholders already have sued the company over the phone-hacking scandal, accusing News Corp. of large-scale governance failures. The lawsuit was filed late Friday in Delaware Chancery Court by shareholders led by Amalgamated Bank, and several municipal and union pension funds joined in.

The shareholders own less than 1 percent of News Corp.’s stock combined. The lawsuit is part of an amended complaint. The shareholders are also challenging News Corp.’s acquisition of Shine Group Ltd., founded by Murdoch’s daughter. News Corp. didn’t immediately return messages for comment on the lawsuit.

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