James Murdoch, the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has told a committee of British lawmakers he was unaware how widespread phone-hacking practices were at the now-defunct News of the World tabloid.
In more than two hours of testimony before the parliamentary ministers Thursday, the younger Murdoch denied having any knowledge of an e-mail that detailed the extent of the phone-hacking - the illegal collection of private voicemail messages used as the basis for sensational news stories. He rejected as "misleading" previous testimony by two of his subordinates at the tabloid that appeared to implicate him in the scandal.
News International, the parent company of News of the World, has long maintained that the hacking was perpetrated by just two people - a "rogue" reporter and private detective, both of whom were sent to prison in 2007.
Murdoch's testimony Thursday prompted one of the Parliament members present to suggest that Murdoch was "a mafia boss" and that the newspaper was run as a criminal enterprise.
Murdoch said such comments were "inappropriate."
A small group of protesters gathered outside Parliament held signs saying "end the Murdoch mafia!"
Murdoch's testimony contradicted that of former News of the World editor Colin Myler and News International's former legal adviser, Tom Crone. Both men told the same parliamentary committee that they had informed Murdoch of the extent of phone-hacking activities at the newspaper as early as 2008.
Murdoch accused the men of misleading testimony and said he disputes it.
Myler and Crone's testimony and internal corporate documents that have been given to Parliament have prompted questions about James Murdoch's credibility.
Founder Rupert Murdoch's 38-year-old son said Thursday that "no documents were shown to me."
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.