May 20, 2013
Murdoch scandal: United Kingdom lawmaker asks police to investigate mogul’s son
News Corp executive James Murdoch could face a police investigation into claims he gave "mistaken" testimony to Britain's parliament this week, deepening the legal crisis that has engulfed the Murdoch family's media empire.
Police said they had received a letter todau from opposition lawmaker Tom Watson, who questioned whether Murdoch was involved in illegal efforts to cover up phone hacking. Detectives investigating a phone hacking scandal centred on the Murdochs' now defunct News of the World tabloid were considering the letter, they said.
Murdoch, chairman of News Corp's British arm, and his father and company head Rupert appeared before parliament's media committee on Tuesday to answer questions on what they knew about the phone-hacking at the company's News of the World.
The company had long maintained that the practice was the work of a lone "rogue reporter". However, two former senior figures at its British newspaper arm have disputed James Murdoch's claim that he was unaware of an e-mail that suggested as early as 2008 that wrongdoing was more widespread.
"I think this is the most significant moment of two years of investigation into phone hacking," Watson, a Labor lawmaker, told BBC TV today. "If their statement is accurate, it shows that James Murdoch had knowledge that others were involved in hacking as early as 2008, that he failed to act to discipline staff or initiate some internal investigation," added Watson, part of the media committee who has long campaigned to expose wrongdoing at the newspaper.
"If their version of events is accurate, it doesn't just mean that parliament has been misled, it means the police have another investigation on their hands," Watson added.
Murdoch has said he stood behind his testimony to the committee and the company said today that this statement still applied.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has come under fire for his close ties to senior News Corp figures, tried to distance himself from the company. "Clearly James Murdoch has got questions to answer in parliament and I am sure that he will do that," he told reporters, "and clearly News International has got some big issues to deal with and a mess to clear up."
"That has to be done by the management of that company. In the end the management of a company must be an issue for the shareholders of that company."
Ex-News of the World editor Colin Myler and Tom Crone, who was the newspaper group's top legal officer, accused James Murdoch of giving "mistaken" testimony.
Watson said the dispute between senior figures past and present in News Corp marked a turning point in efforts to get to the bottom of a scandal dating backing to 2005.
"I think we're getting near to the core of this now, we're getting nearer the truth," Watson said. "People are beginning to speak out. The company effectively closed ranks three years ago," he added. "Now that News of the World is gone, now that the world's media hold this company in the spotlight, I think individuals are beginning to speak out and we will get the full picture."