James Murdoch Will 'Very Likely' Face More Phone Hacking Questioning
LONDON - BSkyB chairman and News Corp deputy COO James Murdoch heard Friday that he will “very likely” be recalled to appear again before the parliament to answer more questions on phone-hacking.
In a parallel development the investigator at the heart of the scandal, Glenn Mulcaire, who has already served jail time for listening to phone messages of members of the Royal Family, issued a statement saying that he had been authorized by his News International superiors to illegally hack messages, adding that any suggestion that he acted alone was “untrue.”
Although a vote to recall James Murdoch immediately was shot down by the members of the all-party Parliamentary Culture Committee, chairman John Whittingdale said a delay was needed to enable it to gather more information,
"I think the chances are that we will reissue to take oral evidence but before doing so I want to get the answers to the detailed questions that we have," Whittingdale told a news conference in Westminster.
The Committee has written to Murdoch to ask for more information about his testimony, which has been directly contradicted by former News of The World editor Colin Mylerand former News International lawyer Tom Crone. Former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks may also be recalled.
Murdoch told the Committee two weeks ago that his former colleagues gave him insufficient information about the facts of a significant out of court settlement he later approved. Murdoch claimed he had not seen a copy of the “for Neville” email that indicated that phone-hacking had been widespread the newspaper..
However, Crone and Myler have issued a statement saying the email was brought to Murdoch’s attention, while another News International legal executive, Jon Chapman, has since appeared to corroborate their view.
“Obviously we want to see the responses they send to the letters we are writing. But Tom Crone and Colin Myler and apparently Jon Chapman have all said they dispute evidence given to this committee by James Murdoch,” Whittingdale said.
“We want to hear exactly how they dispute that, in the first instance in terms of written responses. But I suspect we very likely would want to hear oral evidence. If they do come up with statements that quite plainly are different to those given to us by James Murdoch, we would want to hear James Murdoch's response to that. Chances are that may well involve oral evidence again as well.”
Murdoch last week issued a statement saying he "stood by" his evidence to the Committee.
The news came as the investigator at the heart of the scandal, Glenn Mulcaire, who has already served jail time for listening to phone messages of members of the Royal Family, issued a statement saying that he had been authorized by his superiors to illegally hack messages.
Mulcaire could yet prove to be a loose cannon for senior News International, which ceased paying his legal bills only two weeks ago.
Giving evidence at the select committee on July 19, James Murdoch disclosed that News International had been paying Mulcaire’s legal expenses since 2007 but he had not known about it and would immediately stop the payments. Mulcaire was was fired from the News of The World and jailed in 2007.
In a statement, lawyers for Mulcaire said their client “had been effectively employed by The News of The World from 2002 to carry out his role as a private investigator. "
"As he accepted in when he pleaded guilty to charges of phone interception, he admits his role did include phone hacking. As an employee he acted on the instructions of others…any suggestion that he acted unilaterally is untrue. In the light of the ongoing police investigation, he cannot say any more.”