UK MPs Deplore Murdoch Firm's Actions on Hacking

An influential committee of British lawmakers has condemned News International's actions on phone hacking and accused News Corporation's British newspaper wing of trying to "deliberately thwart" the police investigation into the initial allegations.

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corporation
Don Emmert | AFP | Getty Images
Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corporation

A report into the hacking into cell phones by the Home Affairs Committee was rushed out Thursday morning ahead of Prime Minister David Cameron's statement to Parliament on the affair.

Cameron has hurried back from a trip to Africa and delayed Parliament's summer recess for a day to make the statement. His appearance follows Rupert and James Murdoch's hearing in front of another committee Wednesday, when Wendi Murdoch, Rupert's wife, defended him from a pie-throwing protestor.

"There has been a catalogue of failures by the Metropolitan Police, and deliberate attempts by News International to thwart the various investigations," Committee Chair Keith Vaz said.

"The new inquiry requires additional resources and if these are not forthcoming, it will take years to inform all the potential victims. The victims of hacking should have come first and I am shocked that this has not happened," Vaz added.

In January 2007, News of the World journalist Clive Goodman and the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed over phone hacking.

Rupert Murdoch told MPs that News Corp had been caught "with dirty hands" over the affair. He said that he had not known about the hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's voicemail, the announcement of which helped unleash a flood of other revelations, until very recently.

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, who resigned last week over the allegations, also denied knowing about the hacking, although she was editor of the News of the World at the time.

Andy Hayman, the former leader of the British police's counter-terrorism campaign, who wrote a column for The Times after he retired, was singled out for criticism by the MPs.

"Leaving aside the fact that his approach to our evidence session failed to demonstrate any sense of the public outrage at the role of the police in this scandal, we were very concerned about Mr Hayman’s apparently lackadaisical attitude towards contacts with those under investigation," the report said.

"We do not expressly accuse Mr Hayman of lying to us in his evidence, but it is difficult to escape the suspicion that he deliberately prevaricated in order to mislead us," it added.