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LONDON – News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch and his son and News Corp. deputy COO James Murdoch are scheduled to appear before the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee in Parliament Tuesday at 14:30 BST (06:30 PST) to answer questions about the phone-hacking scandal that is rocking News International, News Corp’s newspaper division.
The duo have been pencilled in by the Parliament committee time-tablers to be followed an hour later at 15:30 (BST) by Murdoch confidante Rebekah Brooks, who on Friday resigned as head of News Corp.’s U.K. newspaper unit, and was arrested and then released Sunday by the Metropolitan police as part of its phone hacking enquiry.
The timings of the much-anticipated appearance of the Murdochs and Brooks before the select committee were released by Parliament just as Brooks’ lawyer issued a statement on her behalf about her arrest and the prospects of her potential grilling in Parliament Tuesday.
Her lawyer’s terse statement began with the succinct claim that she is not guilty of any criminal offence and described her arrest and nine hours of questioning she was subjected to as something the police will “in due course have to give an account of”.
He said: “Despite arresting her yesterday, and conducting an interview process lasting nine hours, they put no allegations to her and showed her no documents connecting her with any crime. They will in due course have to give an account of their actions, and in particular their decision to arrest her with the enormous reputational damage that this has involved.”
He also said Brooks “remains willing to attend the select committee” but said it was up to Parliament to decide on whether or not the hearing should take place at a later date.
Broadcast journalists for both Sky News and BBC News found live feeds being interuppted by the noise of mobile news tents being erected on the grass opposite the Houses of Parliament here as the world’s media prepares to descend in force on the British capital for Tuesday’s quiz.
Analysts quickly pointed to the fact that the Committee had only left an hour between the Murdochs, who will appear together, and Brooks, as likely to be too short to deal with all the questions and issues that have arisen.
Murdoch and the phone-hacking crisis at News International continues to dominate the airwaves, television and newsprint in the U.K. with events moving rapidly.
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