The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has widened its investigation into Rupert Murdoch's News Corp to look into allegations of wrongdoing at the company beyond the claim that News of the World journalists attempted to hack the phones of 9/11 victims.
It was reported this weekend that FBI investigators, who are checking damaging claims that reporters at the now-defunct Sunday tabloid asked a New York-based private detective to access the voicemails of those killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks, have so far found no evidence that attempts were made to secretly listen to those messages.
According to The Independent, US agencies are now examining whether there are further claims of misconduct at the company''s American subsidiaries that merit further investigation.
The move comes as MPs in Westminster prepare to consider tomorrow the release of new documents related to hacking, which one former minister described as "dynamite".
A New Jersey senator wrote to the US Attorney General's office last month asking for an inquiry into News Corp's behaviour in the US, citing the case of Floorgraphics, whose founders claimed their Murdoch-owned rival, News America, threatened to destroy their company when they rejected a takeover bid. A jury was told that 11 breaches of Floorgraphics' password-protected website in 2004 were traced back to an address registered to a News America office and that sensitive information could have been accessed, the paper said.
News Corp, which ended the lawsuit after agreeing to buy Floorgraphics for 29.5 million dollars, denied any claim that it threatened the company and said it condemned the hacking, suggesting it may have been carried out without its knowledge by an employee. News Corp is now facing questions about its US operations, including whether American corruption laws were broken if it is proven that NOTW journalists made payments to British police officers.