James Murdoch Set for Further Questioning as Reporter Alleges Phone Hacking Was 'Widely Discussed' at News Corp.
LONDON – The prospect of News Corp deputy COO James Murdoch’s return to face further questioning by the House of Commons Culture Media and Sport committee over the phone hacking scandal is fast-turning into a certainty.
Murdoch is now more likely than not to be recalled after it emerged Tuesday that the committee had unearthed fresh evidence described as “dynamite” by House of Commons Media Committee member Tom Watson.
Watson was instrumental in summoning James and Rupert Murdoch to answer questions on what they knew on phone-hacking at the News of The World, owned by News International, a division of News Corp.
The dossier of fresh evidence looks at whether or not James Murdoch knew of a crucial email which undermined the explanation that hacking was due to one "rogue reporter".
It contains a letter written by the NOTW’s former royal editor Clive Goodman four years ago that claims phone-hacking was “widely-discussed’ during editorial meetings.
Goodman was jailed back in 2007 in relation to phone-hacking offences and the letter, with its claims, was penned by the former reporter as part of his mitigation while suing News International following his jail time for phone-hacking in 2007.
The select committee published a statement Tuesday lunchtime following an earlier meeting the same day to discuss the new revelations and their context in the scandal.
The dossier also included fresh information about Murdoch and four other key executives including former head of legal affairs at The News of The World Tom Crone and the former editor Colin Myler.
The Committee said it would likely recall Murdoch and various other former NOTW executives and also representatives for News International’s legal representatives during the time Harbottle and Lewis.
But it also said it would be unlikely it will recall Rupert Murdoch for further questioning as the devil is now in the detail and Murdoch senior is no longer required at this stage in the investigation.
Crone and Myler had accused Murdoch of giving "mistaken" evidence to the committee last month (THR 7/21).
Media commentators across the BBC, Sky News and newspapers all agreed that the fresh evidence is likely to have a negative impact on James Murdoch and the efforts to repair reputations at News International and News Corp.