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In Washington, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, urged an investigation into whether News Corp. had violated U.S. law because of the British paper’s activities.

If there was any phone hacking of Americans “the consequences will be severe,” said Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

A report Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, which is part of News Corp., said Murdoch met with advisers in recent weeks to discuss possible options, including the sale of his remaining British newspapers _ The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times. The Journal, citing unidentified people familiar with the situation, said there didn’t appear to be any buyers given the poor economics of the newspaper division.

Meanwhile, some members of the Bancroft family that once controlled the Journal said they would have opposed selling the paper to Murdoch in 2007 had they known about the hacking allegations then. “I probably would have held out,” Christopher Bancroft said in a story published by the nonprofit group ProPublica and British newspaper The Guardian. The story was written by a former executive of Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co.

A defiant mood was evident at The Sun, which slapped the headline “Brown Wrong” across its front page in response to the former prime minister’s claims the paper had obtained confidential medical records of his 4-year-old son Fraser.

The newspaper insisted it learned of the boy’s ailment from the father of another child with the same condition, and that it contacted the Browns, who consented to the story.

On Wednesday, Brown accused Murdoch’s media empire of “lawbreaking often on an industrial scale.”

Speaking in the House of Commons, he said victims saw “their private, innermost feelings and their private tears bought and sold by News International for commercial gain.”

News International descended from the gutter to the sewer,” Brown said.


Bob Barr, Cassandra Vinograd and Gregory Katz contributed to this report.


Jill Lawless can be reached at