Testimony by James Murdoch about Britain’s phone hacking scandal came under renewed scrutiny on Friday with Prime Minister David Cameron saying Mr. Murdoch still had “questions to answer” and a lawmaker calling for the police to open a new inquiry.
The pressure on Mr. Murdoch built a day after two former executives of News International [Colin Myler and Tom Crone] — the British subsidiary of News Corporation — publicly contradicted evidence he gave on Tuesday to a parliamentary panel seeking to unravel the tangled story of phone hacking at the now defunct Murdoch tabloid, The News of the World.
“Clearly James Murdoch has got questions to answer in Parliament and I’m sure he will do that,” Mr. Cameron said during a visit to an auto plant in the British Midlands. “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 the company must be an issue for the shareholders of that company, but the government wants to see this sorted out.”
The Guardian reports:
Colin Myler, editor of the paper until it was shut down two weeks ago, and Tom Crone, the paper’s former head of legal affairs, said they had expressly told Murdoch of an email that would have blown a hole in its defence that only one “rogue reporter” was involved in the phone-hacking scandal.
This contradicts what Murdoch told the committee when questioned on Tuesday.
The existence of the email, known as the “for Neville” email because of its link to the paper’s former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, is thought to have been critical in News International’s decision to pay out around £700,000 to Taylor in an out-of-court settlement after he threatened to sue the paper.
James Murdoch is standing by his version of events. A statement issued by News Corporation said: “James Murdoch stands by his testimony to the select committee.”
In their statement, Myler and Crone challenged this: “Just by way of clarification relating to Tuesday’s Culture, Media Select Committee hearing, we would like to point out that James Murdoch’s recollection of what he was told when agreeing to settle the Gordon Taylor litigation was mistaken.
“In fact, we did inform him of the ‘for Neville’ email which had been produced to us by Gordon Taylor’s lawyers.”
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports:
The U.S. Justice Department is preparing subpoenas as part of preliminary investigations into News Corp. relating to alleged foreign bribery and alleged hacking of voicemail of Sept. 11 victims, according to a government official.
The issuance of such subpoenas, which would broadly seek relevant information from the company, requires approval by senior Justice Department leadership, which hasn’t yet happened, the person said.
The issuance of subpoenas would represent an escalation of scrutiny on the New York-based media company. While the company has sought to isolate the legal problems in the U.K., it has been bracing for increased scrutiny from both the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to people familiar with the company’s strategy.
The Justice Department has said it is looking into allegations that News Corp.’s now-defunct News of the World weekly in the U.K. paid bribes to British police. It has been unclear whether the Justice Department or the SEC have begun formal probes.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation separately has begun an inquiry into whether News Corp. employees tried to hack into voice mails of Sept. 11 victims, people familiar with the early-stage probe have said.
A person close to News Corp. said the preparation of subpoenas is “a fishing expedition with no evidence to support it.”