'Devastating' News May Force More Murdoch Testimony
Staff Writer, CNBC.com
The travails of the Murdoch family over the phone-hacking scandal at their UK newspaper empire are far from over.
On Tuesday afternoon, John Whittingdale, the head of the committee that grilled both Rupert and James Murdoch last month, said that James will "likely" be recalled to answer further questions after the emergence of new evidence.
It is "unlikely" that his father, whosewife Wendi defended him from a cream pie "attack" during the Murdochs' previous appearance, will be called again, the MP said.
Asked if James Murdoch had deliberately misled the committee, Tom Watson, one of the MPs who led the questioning of the Murdochs, told reporters: "We've not drawn a conclusion."
He added that the new evidence, believed to relate to jailed former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman, is "devastating."
Written evidence submitted to the committee was published on its website Tuesday.
The evidence includes a letter from Goodman after his conviction, in which he states that several senior people at News International, whose names have been redacted from the document, had "full knowledge and support" for his actions.
Tom Crone, ex-head of legal affairs at the News of the World, and its former editor Colin Myler, have accused Murdoch publicly of giving "mistaken" evidence to the committee. The News of the World was shuttered in light of revelations that reporters from the tabloid had hacked the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, as well as others.
The scandal threatens to drag in other newspaper groups and even the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who employed Andy Coulson, former editor of the News of the World, as his head of communications.
Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News Corp's UK newspaper operations, resigned last month over the allegations.
The company abandoned its bid for the 60 percent of cable broadcaster BSkyB it does not already own after the scandal escalated.
The letter from Goodman added: "Tom Crone and the editor promised on many occasions that I could come back to a job at the newspaper if I did not implicate the paper or any of its staff in my mitigation plea. I did not, and I expect the paper to honor its promise to me."
Goodman claims that the paper continued to consult him and even to pay him after he was convicted.
Harbottle & Lewis, the law firm employed by News International to investigate the claims and criticized by Rupert Murdoch for "a major mistake" over the affair, also submitted new evidence claiming that the criticism was "wholly misplaced."
The company said that it was bound by client confidentiality and could not have approached police with its findings, and added that it was only given the brief to investigate Goodman, rather than take a broader look at phone-hacking within the company.
Director of Legal Affairs Jonathan Chapman, who left News International in June, wrote in a letter to the Committee that there were "serious inaccuracies" in what they were told by the Murdochs, although he added that he did not believe that they "intended to mislead" the committee.