Murdoch, Brooks asked to appear before British lawmakers

12th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

British lawmakers on Tuesday asked Rupert Murdoch, News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and chairman James Murdoch to give evidence to them on phone hacking, a spokeswoman said.

News International, the British newspaper arm of Murdoch's global media empire, said it would "cooperate".

"I can confirm that Rebekah Brooks, Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch have been asked to give evidence to the culture, media and sport select committee," a spokeswoman for the committee told AFP.

They could "possibly" appear on July 19, the last meeting of the committee before parliament ends for the summer, she said.

She added: "The time and date has not been agreed yet and we are waiting for a reply.

"It would be in relation to current allegations of phone hacking and previous evidence given by News International executives to the predecessor committee's report on press standards, privacy and libel."

She said letters asking for their appearance had not yet been sent out but the trio "have been orally informed".

A News International spokeswoman said in a statement: "We have been made aware of the request from the CMS Committee to interview senior executives and will cooperate. We await the formal invitation."

Tom Watson, a member of parliament with the main opposition Labour party and a member of the committee, told BBC radio the committee "will be sitting next Tuesday and we expect them to attend".

"I suspect that some of them might be too cowardly to turn up but that is up to them to decide," he added.

Watson said MPs wanted to ask Brooks about her knowledge of payments to the police when she was editor of the News of the World from 2000 to 2003, and then when she moved to edit its sister daily, The Sun.

In 2003, Brooks, then known as Rebekah Wade, admitted to the culture committee that "we have paid the police for information in the past".

They also want to quiz James Murdoch on his involvement "in authorising payments to silence" Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, after his phone was hacked, Watson said.

In his statement last week announcing that the News of the World was closing because of the phone-hacking claims, James Murdoch admitted authorising out-of-court settlements to victims.

"The company paid out-of-court settlements approved by me. I now know that I did not have a complete picture when I did so. This was wrong and is a matter of serious regret," he said in the statement.

Rupert Murdoch, whose News. Corp owns News International, flew into London on Sunday to take charge of dealing with the phone-hacking scandal, which has led to a delay in News Corp.'s controversial bid for control of BSkyB.

© 2011 AFP

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