James Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks to Face Police Questioning in Phone Hacking Scandal, PM Says

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Former News of the World Editor Andy Coulson has already been arrested.

LONDON -- James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks will likely face police questioning under the terms of the police inquiry into phone-hacking, Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday.

In a press conference at Downing Street, Cameron moved to distance himself from the close friendship with the Murdoch family that he has enjoyed over many years, warning that the investigation now faced by the senior News International newspaper executives was of a criminal nature.

“It won’t be a question of whether they have jobs or whether they are going to resign from those jobs, it’s a question of whether they are going to be prosecuted, whether they are going to be convicted, whether they are going to be punished. That is what is going to happen,” he said.

“I don’t know what these people at News International did know or didn’t know. Frankly, I don’t think any of us know. The key thing is that they are going to be investigated to the police.”

Asked about the statement made yesterday by News Corp. deputy COO James Murdoch – in which he admitted he had authorized payments without understanding what they related to – the Prime Minister said: “it raises a lot of questions that need to be answered.”

Cameron used the opportunity thrown up by what he described as “a week of chaos” to open a broader investigation into the relationship between politicians, the media and the police.

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Acknowledging that he was a part of a political class that had got too close to media moguls, he said: “You are bound to as a party leader to want to have a relationship with journalists, with editors, with broadcasters, with proprietors. You do that because you have a mission to explain how you want to change the country. If that means talking to the head of the BBC, the editor of The Guardian or Rupert Murdoch you get out there and do it and that is what I have done.”

Cameron said that the U.K. media world as a whole was waking up the realization that the relationship had gone badly wrong.

“The regret I have – the problem we are all now identifying is that leading politicians feel so strongly about wanting that relationship – not just with the Murdochs but with every broadcasting organization, we don’t actually stop and spend enough time asking – ‘is this organization behaving properly?’”