Rupert Murdoch spars with lawmakers in hearing

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After being asked about his relationship with Wallis, who was arrested last week, Stephenson said he had “no reason to connect Wallis with phone hacking” when he was hired for the part-time job in 2009.

He said now that the scale of phone hacking at the paper has emerged, it’s “embarrassing” that Wallis worked for the police.

Stephenson announced his resignation Sunday, saying allegations about his contacts with Murdoch’s News International were a distraction from his job.

He was followed out the door by assistant commissioner John Yates, who gave evidence before the hotly anticipated appearance by the Murdochs and Brooks.

Yates said that with the benefit of hindsight he would have re-opened an inquiry into electronic eavesdropping of voicemail messages.

Yates said if he “knew now” how the phone hacking scandal would enfold, he would have done something different.

He has denied wrongdoing in the scandal.

London’s Metropolitan Police force said Tuesday it had asked a watchdog to investigate its head of public affairs over the scandal _ the fifth senior police official being investigated. The Independent Police Complaints Commission will look at Dick Fedorcio’s role in hiring a former News of the World executive as an adviser to the police.

Fedorcio also was questioned by lawmakers Tuesday, along with Stephenson and Yates.

But it was the appearance by the Murdochs and Brooks that was drawing huge public interest.

Murdoch’s car was mobbed by photographers as he arrived for the hearing about the scandal, which has swept from his media empire through the London police and even to the prime minister’s office.

The Range Rover quickly drove off, returning returned to Parliament about half an hour before the hearing was due to start.

Members of the public and journalists lined up hours ahead of time in hope of a spot in the small committee room, which holds about 40 people. More will be able to watch in an overspill room, and Britain’s TV news channels are anticipating high ratings for the appearance.

Cameron cut short a visit to Africa and is expected to return to Britain for an emergency session Wednesday of Parliament on the scandal.

A former News of the World reporter, Sean Hoare, who helped blow the whistle on the scandal, was found dead Monday in his home. Police said the death was “unexplained” but is not being treated as suspicious. A post-mortem was being conducted Tuesday. Hoare was in his late forties.

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