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Hinton faces MPS again today: 'He'll know where any bodies are buried'

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

October 23, 2011 | 3 min read

Les Hinton, friend of Rupert Murdoch and a close associate for over 50 years, will be asked by MPs today why he told them in 2009 there was “never any evidence delivered to me” that suggested that phone- hacking was widespread at the News of the World.

Les Hinton

He may also be asked whether he was told about a plan to inflate circulation at the Wall Street Journal Europe.

“If there are any bodies buried, he’s thought to be someone who knows where they’re going to be,” Tim Bale, a professor of politics at the University of Sussex, told Bloomberg Business Week in an interview.

“It also offers the parliamentarians another chance to do what many people think they didn’t really do when the Murdochs themselves appeared, which is to nail the story and ask some very awkward questions.”

Hinton, now 67, first worked as a copy boy in 1960 on the Adelaide News, Murdoch's first paper. He was the News International U.K.boss in 2007 when the News of the World's royal editor Royal editor Clive Goodman was jailed for phone-hacking. Later Hinton approved payments of £250,000 to the fired Goodman,.

Hinton went on to became CEO of Dow Jones, publishers of the Wall Street Journal, resigning from the New York job this year after the News of the World's hacking of the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler was revealed.

Paul Farrelly, a Labour MP on Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and a former City Editor of The Observer , told Bloomberg, “We want to know what did he know, and when did he know it."

John Whittingdale, chairman of the committee, has said he wants Hinton’s testimony before James Murdoch testifies for a second time.

In July, Rupert Murdoch told the committee he didn’t blame Hinton for what had gone wrong at News International.

“I worked with Mr. Hinton for 52 years, and I would trust him with my life,” Murdoch said.

Hinton will give evidence by videoconference from the U.S. as he did at his last parliamentary appearance in 2009. Then he said phone hacking at the News of the World had been restricted to Goodman and private eye Glenn Mulcaire.

Mark Lewis, a lawyer for phone-hacking victims, on Oct. 19 told the committee he believed that a £425,000 settlement to one of his clients, former boss of the Professional Footballers’ Association Gordon Taylor, was designed to keep evidence of phone-hacking quiet.

“There was no way the case was worth that amount,” Lewis said.

That payment in 2008 was approved by James Murdoch.

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