Murdochs should testify to British lawmakers: deputy PM

14th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Rupert Murdoch, his son James and top British executive Rebekah Brooks must testify before British MPs if they have a "shred of sense of responsibility", Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Thursday.

A British parliamentary committee has asked the three to answer questions this coming Tuesday about phone hacking at Murdoch's News of the World tabloid, giving them a deadline of later Thursday to reply to the invitation.

Asked by BBC radio if he thought they should appear before the House of Commons media committee, Clegg said: "Of course."

"If they have any shred of sense of responsibility of accountability for their position of power, then they should come and explain themselves before a select committee," Clegg said.

"We need to look at whether they (the committee) have got the power and ability to compel them, if someone cannot be compelled -- I don't know whether we can frog-march them to the select committee."

News International, Murdoch's British newspaper division of which Brooks is the chief executive and James Murdoch is chairman, said on Tuesday that it would "cooperate" but has not said whether they would attend.

The committee may have more powers over Brooks, a British national, than it does over Australian-born Rupert Murdoch and James, both of whom are now US citizens.

"We have powers over British citizens, in other words over Mrs Brooks," Conservative lawmaker Louise Mensch, a member of the committee, told the BBC.

"Rupert and James Murdoch are American citizens, we don't have any power over them, but I think it would surprise everybody if they were to have the guts to show up.

"It would show a little bit of leadership, it would be the first step in lancing this giant boil."

The scandal over mobile phone voicemail hacking at Murdoch's News of the World exploded last week after it emerged that it had targeted the messages of a murdered girl and of the families of war veterans.

Murdoch shut the 168-year-old News of the World on Sunday but that failed to stem the growing criticism of his media empire.

On Wednesday, he announced News Corp. was dropping its bid for full control of satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

© 2011 AFP

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