Phone-hacking panel resumes in UK 9/6


The UK government’s parliamentary committee’s inquiry into phone hacking at News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid resumes 9/6 with the focus on when top execs of the company’s U.K. newspaper unit, News International, became aware of the problem.

Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee will hear from four former News Corp. employees who have challenged testimony given to the committee by James Murdoch, News Corp.’s deputy COO, and Les Hinton, a former executive chairman of the unit.

The panel is focused on if it was previously misled by the media giant, in particular about when executives became aware that voice-mail interceptions at the recently closed News of the World went beyond Clive Goodman, the former royals correspondent who went to jail in 2007 for the practice.

The panel will also look at how thoroughly the company investigated alleged wrongdoing in the wake of the initial revelation of phone hacking at the paper five years ago, reported WSJ, which is owned by News Corp.

News Corp. recently said News International had “wrongly maintained” that phone hacking was limited to only one staff member and has apologized for “the serious wrongdoing that occurred.”

In a 7/7 statement, James Murdoch said News of the World had misled politicians in the past, having “made statements to Parliament without being in full possession of the facts.”

Scheduled to testify are the tabloid’s former editor and former top lawyer—Colin Myler and Tom Crone, respectively—who have disputed recent testimony by James Murdoch. They say that in early 2008 they informed James Murdoch, then head of News Corp.’s Europe and Asia operations, about an email suggesting phone hacking was carried out by more than one reporter. James Murdoch has maintained that he hadn’t been made aware of the email at the time.

Also testifying are two former News International executives—the onetime director of legal affairs, Jon Chapman, and former head of human resources, Daniel Cloke. News Corp. has previously said that phone hacking was limited to one man was based in large part on a review of emails, stemming from an unfair-dismissal claim that was conducted by a law-firm hired by the company.

As well, Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch are to be questioned about the phone hacking scandal under oath in the High Court at the end of the month. Lord Justice Leveson will hold his inquiry at the Royal Courts of Justice. The focus of the inquiry is “the culture, practices and ethics of the press in the context of the latter’s relationship with the public, police and politicians”.

Meanwhile, James turned down a company bonus on 9/2: “In light of the current controversy surrounding News of the World, I have declined the bonus that the company chose to award to me. While the financial and operating performance metrics on which the bonus decision was based are not associated with this matter, I feel that declining the bonus is the right thing to do. I will consult with the Compensation Committee in the future about whether any bonus may be appropriate at a later date.”