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Media News of the World Phone-Hacking Trial

News International’s former chairman James Murdoch expected to be criticised in MPs report on phone-hacking

By Hamish Mackay |

May 1, 2012 | 3 min read

The former chairman of News International, James Murdoch, is expected to be criticised in a report being issued later today by MPs investigating phone-hacking.

However, according to Media Guardian, their assessment of Murdoch’s conduct is expected to fall just short of accusing the former chairman of News International of misleading parliament about the extent of his knowledge of the affair.

The report is from the all-party culture media and sport select committee which has evidently concluded they could not reach a final decision about whether Murdoch misled them because of what they described as conflicting evidence, say sources close to the process.

Media Guardian reports: “However, there was enough to lead members to agree that Murdoch had not asked the questions that would help determine the true extent of phone hacking at the News of the World for several years.

“Some Conservatives on the committee are understood to have argued that Murdoch should not have been criticised at all, but in a three-hour meeting, in which much of the debate was taken up with agreeing the final wording as regards the News Corporation heir, their amendments are understood to have failed.”

News International has already conceded in civil actions brought by hacking victims that illegal practice took place at the News of the World between 2001 and 2006 - before Murdoch became executive chairman in late 2007.

The extent of the hacking was not fully appreciated however, by News International, it would seem, until faced with the evidence presented during actress Sienna Miller's case.

It is also expected that Les Hinton, Murdoch's predecessor, will also be heavily condemned, having appeared in front of the committee on three occasions to deny a culture of phone hacking within the News of the World. He is expected to be accused of misleading MPs.

Former News of the World editor Colin Myler and legal chief Tom Crone are also expected to come under fire from the report, although both Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks are expected to avoid much damage, due to their arrests.

“Committee members felt they could not condemn individuals who had been arrested – providing some relief for David Cameron, who appointed Coulson as his chief spin doctor after Coulson resigned from the News of the World," claims Media Guardian.

The Conservative MP who heads the media committee, John Whittingdale, has indicated the report would seek to address the central issue of whether there was a cover-up at the newspaper and whether statements made to the committee by witnesses were correct.

"We have been looking at whether Parliament was misled and who did so if that was the case," he told the BBC's Daily Politics last Thursday.

The hacking revelations led to the closure of the News of the World and the government's decision to set up a judicial inquiry into press standards headed by Lord Justice Leveson.

Media News of the World Phone-Hacking Trial

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