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HindustanTimes Sat,01 Nov 2014

World

James Murdoch set to be criticised in UK lawmakers' report
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London, May 01, 2012
First Published: 15:54 IST(1/5/2012)
Last Updated: 15:55 IST(1/5/2012)

A British parliamentary report to be published later Tuesday is expected to criticise Rupert Murdoch's son James and senior executives for their handling of phone hacking at the News of the World.

The cross-party committee is however expected to stop short of finding James Murdoch misled parliament about the extent of his knowledge of voicemail hacking at the tabloid, which was shut down in July over the scandal.

The cross-party Culture, Media and Sport Committee will publish its long-awaited report at 1030 GMT.

Its contents have been kept secret, but leaks suggest it will say James Murdoch failed to ask the questions which would have helped determine the true extent of phone hacking.

Murdoch and his father Rupert both gave evidence to the committee last year, with James recalled to give evidence for a second time.

James resigned his role as head of News International, the Murdochs' British newspaper publishing arm, in February but he remains a senior executive at its parent company, News Corp., which his father founded.

When Rupert Murdoch appeared before the committee last July, his wife Wendi intervened when he was attacked by a protester with a shaving foam pie.

The parliamentary committee is reportedly expected to reserve its strongest criticism for Les Hinton, a long-time lieutenant of the Murdochs.

Hinton told lawmakers in 2009 that he was right to have informed them that phone hacking was not widespread at the News of the World.

The Murdochs closed down the tabloid after a public uproar when it was alleged that the paper had hacked into the voicemail of a teenage girl, Milly Dowler, who was later found murdered, as well dozens of public figures.

News Corp. has since paid out millions of pounds in compensation to hacking victims, while more than 40 people have been arrested over hacking and alleged bribery of public officials by staff at the News of the World and The Sun.

The parliamentary committee has had to take care not to cut across the ongoing police investigation.

A reporter at the News of the World and a private investigator were both jailed over phone hacking in 2007 as a result of an earlier criminal investigation, but no one has yet been charged in the current probe.

The parliamentary report is also likely to criticise the News of the World's last editor Colin Myler, and News International's former head of legal affairs Tom Crone, for maintaining the hacking was restricted to one rogue reporter.

When Rupert Murdoch gave evidence to a separate public inquiry into press standards last week, he admitted there was a "cover-up" over phone hacking at the News of the World, but said he too was misled over the scandal.

Murdoch, 81, pointed the finger at a "clever lawyer" at the paper for taking charge of the cover-up.

The accusation drew a furious response from Crone, who said it could only refer to him and branded the charge a "shameful lie".

Murdoch told the standards inquiry last week that the hacking scandal had cost New York-based News Corp. "hundreds of millions of dollars".

He still owns The Sun, The Times and Sunday Times in Britain and the Wall Street Journal and New York Post in the United States.

Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday dismissed opposition calls for an inquiry into culture minister Jeremy Hunt over his handling of the now-abandoned News Corp. bid for full control of satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

Hunt's special adviser, Adam Smith, resigned last week over claims he leaked details to a News Corp. lobbyist about the government's view of its bid to buy the part of the highly profitable BSkyB that it does not already own.

It led to accusations that the government had provided a back channel to News Corp.


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