LONDON (Reuters) – Four former executives from News Corp’s UK newspaper arm will appear before a powerful parliamentary committee today in the ongoing hunt to establish who knew what about phone hacking and whether James Murdoch did enough to uncover the scandal.
The committee called the four men who no longer work for News International — two lawyers, the head of human resources and an editor — after evidence emerged which suggested that the company had engaged in a huge corporate cover up.
The four will appear before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee to answer questions on their role in the hacking affair, which wiped billions off Rupert Murdoch’s company in July as a sense of crisis engulfed the firm.
Their testimony is likely to increase pressure on James Murdoch as two of the men have already contradicted Rupert’s son over what he knew and when, while another has accused both Murdochs of “serious inaccuracies.”
“It’s getting very interesting,” Claire Enders, of the Enders Analysis media consultancy, told Reuters. “Some of these senior ex employees have recently made statements which appear to go against what they had previously told the committee. And the committee is going after it now with some enthusiasm.”
News International had long argued that the hacking of a few phones owned by celebrities was carried out by one ‘rogue’ reporter, Clive Goodman, who went to jail for the crime in 2007 along with a private detective, Glenn Mulcaire.
That position crumbled however as it became clear that the hacking of phones had been employed on an almost industrial scale and was used to secure stories not just on celebrities, but also murder victims and those killed in war.
In August, the committee released a private 2007 letter written by Goodman to News International, stating that phone hacking was widely known about and openly referred to at the paper, before the-then editor Andy Coulson banned any reference to it.