- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 11, 2011

LONDON (AP) — Rupert Murdoch’s former right-hand man will be questioned by British lawmakers on how much he knew about the phone hacking scandal, lawmakers said Tuesday.

Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which is investigating the scandal, said Les Hinton, a former Wall Street Journal publisher and top Murdoch aide, would testify by video link Oct. 24.

The announcement was made in a brief scheduling note emailed to journalists and didn’t include any details about what the hearing’s agenda would be. But Mr. Hinton has emerged as a central figure in the scandal, which has damaged Mr. Murdoch’s international media empire and convulsed the world of British journalism.

Mr. Hinton was executive chairman of News International, the U.K. newspaper division of News Corp., while illegal behavior allegedly was rife at the News of the World, the division’s flagship Sunday tabloid.

Mr. Hinton testified in 2007 and 2009 that he had not seen any evidence the hacking had spread beyond one reporter, but documentary evidence and testimony from other former executives since have cast doubt on his claims.

Mr. Hinton worked with Mr. Murdoch for more than a half-century before he resigned in the wake of the scandal. His closeness to his former boss — Mr. Murdoch said in July that he would trust Mr. Hinton “with my life” — means  his appearance will receive particularly close scrutiny.

Separately, London’s new police commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, told lawmakers that his officers were assisting 30 British investigations into the tabloid phone-hacking scandal.

Alongside three criminal inquiries led by London police — also known as the Metropolitan Police or Scotland Yard — Britain has a host of other ongoing reviews, including a judge-led study of media ethics, a probe by the police complaints watchdog, a review of ties between police and the press, and various examinations by parliamentary committees.

“I can entirely understand why that is necessary, but what it does mean — in terms of the Met — is that all those different groups expect us to provide information,” Commissioner Hogan-Howe said.

Commissioner Hogan-Howe, appointed after his predecessor and another top officer stepped down amid the scandal, said he hoped to restore standards in the police department.

“There will be things to resolve, but we will work our [way] through it … and build the trust of the people of London,” he told the Home Affairs Select Committee.

David Stringer contributed to this report.

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