Tuesday 28 March 2017

Phone hacking: James Murdoch recalled by MPs

Gavin Cordon

James Murdoch is to face a fresh grilling by MPs investigating the News of the World phone hacking scandal, it was announced today.

Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairman John Whittingdale said Mr Murdoch, who gave evidence to the committee last July, was being recalled.

However, he said that the committee wanted to take evidence first from other witnesses, including former senior News Corp executive Les Hinton and Mark Lewis, the lawyer representing victims.

Mr Whittingdale told Sky News that his committee was "beginning to reach the end of its deliberations" but wanted to tie up "one or two loose ends" by recalling witnesses.

He said Mr Hinton would be asked about the period in which payments were made to News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who were jailed in 2007 for eavesdropping on private voicemail messages.

And he said that the committee wanted to hear from Farrer's, the solicitors who advised News International on the six-figure payment made to settle the case of Professional Footballers Association chief executive Gordon Taylor, who took legal action over alleged phone-hacking.

Mr Whittingdale said: "As a final session, we will have some more questions based on what we have heard which we will want to put to James Murdoch."

The questions will focus on discrepancies between Mr Murdoch's evidence in July and the evidence given to the committee last week by former News of the World editor Colin Myler and ex-News International lawyer Tom Crone.

Mr Myler and Mr Crone insisted that they told Mr Murdoch in a 2008 meeting about the notorious "For Neville" email, which showed that phone-hacking was not confined to a single rogue reporter on the News of the World - something he has always denied.

"Clearly, there are different accounts which we have heard," said Mr Whittingdale. "We have spent some time questioning Tom Crone and Colin Myler last week about their version of what happened.

"We would want to put that to James Murdoch and hear more about how he recalls the meeting."

Asked whether the committee had any powers to force Mr Murdoch to appear if he refuses to do so voluntarily, Mr Whittingdale said: "I honestly don't think that will be necessary.

"My understanding has always been that he wants to co-operate with all the inquiries and he has said that on the record."

A News Corp spokesperson said: "James Murdoch is happy to appear in front of the committee again to answer any further questions members might have."

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