U.K. pols to quiz James Murdoch further

Parliamentary committee to recall News Corp. exec

A British pol has confirmed that James Murdoch is to be recalled to give evidence before Parliament regarding the phone-hacking scandal at the defunct News of the World.

John Whittingdale, the member of Parliament who heads the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said Murdoch needs to answer more questions to clear up conflicting accounts of what he knew about illegal practices at the paper. Whittingdale told Sky News, owned by News Corp., that his committee was near the end of its deliberations but wanted to tie up loose ends by recalling witnesses.

He added, “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.”

MPs are keen to focus on discrepancies between Murdoch’s testimony before the committee on July 19 and what they heard last week from former News of the World editor Colin Myler and ex-News Intl. lawyer Tom Crone.

They claim they told Murdoch in 2008 about the so-called “For Neville” email, a reference to the tabloid’s former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck. This indicated that phone hacking was not confined to a single “rogue reporter” but a routine way of getting stories.

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

“We want to put that to James Murdoch and hear more about how he recalls the meeting,” Whittingdale said.

But before Murdoch, who is News Corp.’s deputy chief operating officer, is invited back, the pols want to hear from other witnesses.

These include former News Intl. CEO Les Hinton, who resigned in July after working for Rupert Murdoch for more than 50 years, and lawyer Mark Lewis, whose clients include the family of murdered British schoolgirl and phone hacking victim Milly Dowler.

Whittingdale said 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.

Both men were jailed in 2007 for intercepting voicemail messages.

It is unclear when James Murdoch will appear before the MPs, but the hearing may take place in November.

A News Corp. spokesman said, “James Murdoch is happy to appear in front of the committee again to answer any further questions members might have.”