Murdoch's News International spied on politicians: lawyer

8th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

A lawyer representing victims of Britain's phone-hacking scandal said Tuesday he had seen documents suggesting that Rupert Murdoch's News International placed politicians under surveillance.

Mark Lewis, himself spied on by the newspaper publisher's now-defunct News of the World tabloid, told BBC radio that a report handed to him by police indicated that lawmakers had been tailed as well as lawyers.

The report suggested that "someone at News International" ordered the surveillance to be carried out, said Lewis, who represented the family of one of the most high-profile hacking victims, murdered teenager Milly Dowler.

Opposition Labour party lawmaker Tom Watson, a leading campaigner against Murdoch's British newspapers, was among those named in the report, he said.

"Tom Watson MP is mentioned in the report," Lewis said, but declined to identify other politicians, adding only they were "high-profile, involved in issues relating to News International."

News International declined to comment.

Watson sits on a parliamentary committee which will grill James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch's son and News International chairman, on Thursday for a second time over the hacking scandal after his first testimony was contradicted.

Lewis suggested James Murdoch had lost control of the company.

News International admitted Monday that the News of the World, which closed in July amid the hacking scandal, spied on Lewis and another lawyer, but said the "deeply inappropriate" action was not condoned by any current executives.

Private detective Derek Webb told the BBC he was hired to spy on Lewis' former wife and children, prompting the lawyer to threaten legal action.

"It's disgraceful. No father wants his child surveilled -- this is wrong on so many levels. It thoroughly undermines any notion of fair play," Lewis said in Tuesday's interview.

He added: "I am sure they were doing it in order to stop me and (fellow lawyer) Charlotte Harris representing our clients. It was undoubtedly a fishing exercise."

© 2011 AFP

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