- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 19, 2011

LONDON (AP) - Rupert Murdoch, his son James and the media mogul’s former top U.K. newspaper chief, Rebekah Brooks, face a grilling from lawmakers Tuesday about the intensifying phone hacking scandal, which has spread from their media empire, to the top ranks of the police and even the British prime minister’s office.

In an attempt to cut short the widening crisis, Prime Minister David Cameron has cut short his visit to Africa and has called for an emergency session of Parliament on the scandal for Wednesday. Scotland Yard’s assistant commissioner resigned Monday, a day after his boss also quit, and fresh investigations of possible police wrongdoing were launched in the scandal

In a further twist, a former News of the World reporter who helped blow the whistle on the scandal was found dead Monday in his home, but it was not believed to be suspicious.

Murdoch shut down the News of the World tabloid after it was accused of hacking into the voice mail of celebrities, politicians, other journalists and even murder victims, but the closure has done little to end a string of revelations.

It has prompted the arrest and resignation of U.K. newspaper chief executive Rebekah Brooks and the resignation of Wall Street Journal publisher Les Hinton, sunk the media baron’s dream of taking full control of a lucrative satellite broadcaster, British Sky Broadcasting, and raised questions about his ability to keep control of his empire.

On the eve of the crucial televised Parliament hearing, News Corp. board member Thomas Perkins insisted to The Associated Press that Rupert Murdoch has the full support of the company’s board of directors and is not considering elevating Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey to replace Murdoch as CEO.

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.

The crisis has roiled the upper ranks of Britain’s police, with Monday’s resignation of Assistant Commissioner John Yates _ Scotland Yard’s top anti-terrorist officer _ following that on Sunday of police chief Paul Stephenson over their links to Neil Wallis, an arrested former executive from Murdoch’s shuttered News of the World tabloid whom police had employed as a media consultant.

The government quickly announced an inquiry into police-media relations and possible corruption.

Home Secretary Theresa May said that people were naturally asking “who polices the police,” and announced an inquiry into “instances of undue influence, inappropriate contractual arrangements and other abuses of power in police relationships with the media and other parties.”

The Independent Police Complaints Commission also said it was looking into the claims, including one that Yates inappropriately helped get a job for Wallis‘ daughter. Wallis, former executive editor of News of the World, was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications.

Yates said he had done nothing wrong.

“I have acted with complete integrity,” he said. “My conscience is clear.”

In another development, police confirmed that a second former News of the World employee was employed by Scotland Yard. Alex Marunchak had been employed as a Ukrainian language interpreter with access to highly sensitive police information between 1980 and 2000, the Metropolitan Police said.

Scotland Yard said it recognized “that this may cause concern and that some professions may be incompatible with the role of an interpreter,” adding that the matter will be looked into.

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