Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

MPs may grill James Murdoch again

James Murdoch gives evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in the House of Commons
James Murdoch gives evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in the House of Commons

MPs are poised to recall James Murdoch for a second grilling in Parliament over the phone hacking scandal.

It follows a series of claims made by former News International senior executives that Mr Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer at News Corp, knew about the widespread prevalence of phone-hacking back in 2008.

Conservative John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee, rejected a bid for an immediate fresh hearing but indicated a second examination was likely to be held soon.

Jon Chapman, the former head of corporate and legal affairs at News International, reportedly claimed that there were "serious inaccuracies" in statements made by Mr Murdoch to MPs.

Former News of the World editor Colin Myler and its legal manager Tom Crone also accused the head of News Corp in Europe and Asia of being "mistaken" when he said he was unaware of an containing the transcripts of hacked voicemails. The pair insist they had informed him of the email when he signed off a reported £700,000 out-of-court settlement with Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, in 2008.

Mr Whittingdale said there was "every chance" Mr Murdoch could be asked to re-appear but he wanted to take written evidence first. He had written to Mr Myler, Mr Crone and Mr Chapman to explain their statements following last week's select committee.

Mr Whittingdale told a press conference in Westminster: "Obviously we want to see the responses that they send to the letters that we are writing, but Tom Crone and Colin Myler and Jon Chapman have all said that they dispute the evidence given to this committee by James Murdoch.

"We want to hear exactly how they dispute that. I suspect it very likely that we will want to hear oral evidence. If they do come back with statements that are quite plainly different from those given by James Murdoch, we will want to hear James Murdoch's response to that. The chances are that this may well involve oral evidence from him as well."

Meanwhile, the private detective at the centre of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal acted "on the instructions of others", his legal team said. Glenn Mulcaire's lawyers strongly rejected suggestions that he "unilaterally" hacked into voicemails of victims without the newspaper's knowledge.

In a firmly worded statement, Mr Mulcaire's lawyers said he was "effectively employed" by the paper from 2002. He was subsequently jailed along with former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman in January 2007.

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