News / Europe

Murdoch Pressured to Testify in British Phone-Hacking Investigation

James and Rupert Murdoch (C) and a minder leave the Stafford Hotel in St James's Place, central London July 10, 2011.
James and Rupert Murdoch (C) and a minder leave the Stafford Hotel in St James's Place, central London July 10, 2011.

Britain's deputy prime minister says he wants media baron Rupert Murdoch to testify next week before a parliamentary committee investigating a widening phone hacking and bribery scandal against journalists at his British papers.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told British radio Thursday that Murdoch, along with his son James and top executive Rebekah Brooks, should appear at Tuesday's hearing "if they have any shred of responsibility" for claims that his journalists hacked personal cell phones and paid police for information.

British lawmakers had already asked the three to testify before the committee. But Clegg cast doubt on whether Rupert or James Murdoch were compelled to appear, since both are U.S. citizens.

Another arrest


Meanwhile, British police announced they have arrested another person allegedly involved in the scandal. Police say the unidentified 60-year-old man is being held "on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications.

In Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Thursday that she may support a parliamentary review of the nation's media, following calls by Australian lawmakers to look into Murdoch's vast local media holdings.

BSkyB bid dropped

On Wednesday night, Murdoch ended his efforts to consolidate and expand his British media operations when he withdrew his $12 billion bid for control of European satellite television provider British Sky Broadcasting. Murdoch deputy, News Corporation president Chase Carey says it would be "too difficult" for the company to try to win approval for the acquisition "in this climate."

The announcement came just before Parliament was poised to vote overwhelmingly on a non-binding resolution calling on Murdoch to end his attempted takeover of the company.

Tabloid shut down

British officials and much of its population have recoiled at allegations that journalists at the News of the World tabloid, that Murdoch recently closed, and at some of his other publications, hacked into phones of ordinary citizens and paid police for information for stories they were working on. News of the World reporters are alleged to have hacked into the phones of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and relatives of British soldiers who had been killed in combat.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament he will look into whether victims of the 2001 terrorism attacks in the United States were targeted in the phone-hacking.

Cameron says a new police investigation should be able to resolve whether journalists at the Murdoch publications sought to access information about the 9/11 victims. A non-Murdoch newspaper, The Daily Mirror, claims that some Murdoch journalists had approached a private investigator in the United States to try to access the phone data of some of the victims of 9/11.

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