Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch Face Tough Questioning in Front of Parliamentary Committee
An official summons has forced the two execs to agree to appear at the Tuesday hearing, where Rupert Murdoch will likely be asked to apologize for the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
LONDON -- In yet another U-turn in News Corp.'s accident-prone handling of the phone-hacking crisis, Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch have agreed to give evidence to the Culture Media and Sport select committee Tuesday after initially saying they could not attend.
As news comes that the FBI is also launching an inquiry into the possible phone-hacking of 9/11 victims, News Corp.'s most senior executives are now being forced to battle the deepening crisis on multiple fronts.
Both appear to have caved in to mounting legal and political pressure in the U.K. only after being officially summoned by the House of Commons by the Serjeant at Arms, Parliament's official representative.
The 80-year-old News Corp. chairman and chief executive had initially said that he could not appear, though insisted he was prepared to co-operate with the Judicial Inquiry being launched by the government.
News Corp. deputy COO James Murdoch had sought to postpone his appearance until next month, but he will now attend alongside his father and News International CEO Rebekah Brooks.
All three are now expected to face tough questioning when he comes before the all-party select committee in what will be one of the highest-profile evidence sessions in recent history.
The three will be making their first appearance to answer questions on the scandal which has engulfed the British media, and are expected to face tough questioning.
Brooks, who attended a hearing in 2007 and made statements that News International has now admitted were misleading, is expected to face the most hostile questioning from the committee.
James Murdoch, who last week admitted that he authorized payments to phone hacking victims thought to be the tune of more than $1 million, also will face questions of what he knew of why the payments had been issued and why News International had denied any knowledge of payments for more than four years.
Rupert Murdoch is expected to be asked to apologize to the parents of 13-year old Milly Dowler, the murdered girl whose phone was hacked into by News of the World investigators.
The investigators deleted messages left for the schoolgirl, giving police and her family false hope that she was still alive.
"They are attending next Tuesday," a committee spokeswoman confirmed Thursday afternoon.
Although rarely enforced, Parliament has a range of civil and judicial powers to compel witnesses to appear before the committee and can also involve the police.