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James Murdoch faces second grilling before Parliament
LONDON (AP) — JamesMurdoch is being recalled for another grilling before Britain's Parliament after former News Corp. executives raised serious doubts about his account of his role in the country’s tabloid phone-hacking scandal.
The committee of lawmakers investigating the scandal hopes to tie up “one or two loose ends” by recalling the younger Mr. Murdoch, committee Chairman John Whittingdale said Tuesday. The committee said News Corp. chief RupertMurdoch — who appeared alongside his son at a July 19 U.K. hearing that was televised around the world — was not being recalled.
The two Murdochs gave a dramatic performance earlier this summer, apologizing for a scandal that has shaken Britain’s establishment but refusing to accept responsibility for the illegal behavior that happened at newspapers under their watch.
But a string of ex-News Corp. employees have cast doubt on several claims made by the father-and-son media magnates.
Colin Myler, former editor of the News of the World tabloid, and former legal adviser Tom Crone insisted that JamesMurdoch was wrong when he claimed not to have been aware of a critical piece of evidence suggesting that illegal espionage was far more widespread at the tabloid then was being claimed at the time.
Mr. Myler and Mr. Crone insist that James Murdoch was explicitly told about the evidence in a 2008 meeting — raising the possibility that JamesMurdoch authorized a massive phone-hacking payout in an effort to bury the scandal and then lied to Parliament about it in July.
“Clearly, there are different accounts which we have heard,” Mr. Whittingdale told Sky News television. “We have spent some time questioning Tom Crone and Colin Myler last week about their version of what happened. We would want to put that to JamesMurdoch and hear more about how he recalls the meeting.”
JamesMurdoch has stood by his testimony, and his company has criticized Mr. Myler and Mr. Crone’s evidence as confused and contradictory. Alice Macandrew, a spokeswoman for News Corp., where JamesMurdoch serves as deputy chief operating officer, said he was “happy to appear in front of the select committee to answer any further questions.”
Ms. Macandrew said the company would “await details of the committee’s request.”
Mr. Whittingdale told Sky that his committee was “beginning to reach the end of its deliberations” but didn’t give a specific date for the new testimony. He also said he wanted to quiz Les Hinton, RupertMurdoch‘s former right-hand man, and Mark Lewis, a lawyer for many people who have sued the tabloid for hacking into their phones.
Neither Mr. Hinton nor Mr. Lewis immediately returned messages seeking comment. Mr. Hinton, the former publisher of Rupert Murdoch‘s U.S. flagship, the Wall Street Journal, is the most senior executive to resign in the hacking scandal.
At least 16 people have been arrested over the phone-hacking scandal, in which News of the World stands accused of illegally hacking into the voice mails of celebrities, politicians and even murder victims in search of scoops. Those arrested include Andy Coulson, the former top communications aide for Prime Minister David Cameron.
Rupert Murdoch was forced to shut down the top-selling tabloid and abandon his multibillion-pound bid for full control of satellite broadcaster BSkyB in the wake of the hacking controversy.
Several senior Murdoch aides, as well as two British police leaders, also have had to resign.
In a separate development Tuesday, a lawyer said in a British High Court that the mother of a July 7, 2005, London transit bombing victim was among those suing the News of the World over allegations of illegal espionage.
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