Rupert Murdoch was summoned by the British Parliament committee investigating his hacking scandal to give evidence next Tuesday, but it is not yet clear whether he will turn up. The summons came on a day when Murdoch's bid to take over satellite company BSkyB looked to be in more serious peril than ever, with members on all sides of the House of Commons calling for it to be scrapped.
Louise Mensch, a Conservative member of Parliament, announced on Twitter that Murdoch, his son James and News International chief Rebekah Brooks have all been summoned to appear before the Select Committee of the Department of Media, Culture and Sport (the government cabinet department responsible for the press.)
On Tuesday afternoon, the head of the committee, John Whittingdale, initially announced that Rupert and James Murdoch and Brooks will indeed appear before Parliament next Tuesday. Later, he rowed that statement back, saying he was not sure who will appear and that he can only force Brooks to come, since both Murdochs are actually American citizens.
James Murdoch has already apologized for issuing misleading statements to Parliament in previous testimony. The Select Committee has also been a frequent critic of News International's conduct during the five-year hacking scandal.
The summons is just the latest in a string of bad news for Rupert Murdoch. On Tuesday, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued an extraordinary attack on News International for hacking, "blagging" and conning its way into obtaining his legal and financial records, as well as for allegedly uncovering the news of his son's cystic fibrosis through illegal means.
UPDATE: News International released a statement on Tuesday afternoon strongly denying Brown's charges about their story on his son's illness.
"We are able to assure the Brown family that we did not access the medical records of their son, nor did we commission anyone to do so," the statement read in part. "The story The Sun ran about their son originated from a member of the public whose family has also experienced cystic fibrosis. He came to The Sun with this information voluntarily because he wanted to highlight the cause of those afflicted by the disease. The individual has provided a written affidavit this afternoon to a lawyer confirming this."
In addition, senior British police officers told the New York Times that the News of the World had both hacked into their phones and obliquely threatened to reveal damaging personal information if they continued an investigation into the paper's practices.Watch a video about the latest news in the scandal:
And the Evening Standard reported that members of Queen Elizabeth's personal security detail sold information about her personal contact details, as well as private information about herself, her family and her aides to the News of the World.
Perhaps even more worrying for Murdoch is the derailment of his $12 billion bid to fully take over BSkyB, the lucrative satellite broadcaster. On Tuesday, Downing Street signaled that it would support an opposition Labour Party motion calling on News Corp to drop its bid altogether. (The bid had already been delayed.) The motion is not binding, but the coalition government's reported support marks a stunning change of fortune for Murdoch, given that the very same government vigorously supported the takeover just a few weeks ago.
Murdoch's company, News Corp, saw its stock plummet, and on Tuesday morning, it announced that it is buying back $5 billion worth of its own stock. The move comes as shareholders and analysts are questioning Murdoch's handling of the crisis.
For a complete timeline of the scandal leading back to 2006, click here.
John Whittingdale, the Culture Committee chairman, now says it is not clear whether the Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks will attend the Committee next Tuesday. They were issued written invitations to attend this morning.Whittingdale commented:
We need to know who authorised the activities that have now been uncovered at News International. Of the three, we can only compel Rebekah Brooks to attend as she is a UK citizen.
Sky News: Keith Vaz's interrogation of John Yates was 'disrespectful and unnecessary' says an indignant John O'Connor, former Scotland Yard Commander. I can understand why the phone hacking was indeed a 'low priority with all the terror going on'.
Statements from News InternationalThe Sun:
We're able to assure the Brown family that we did not access the medical records of their son medical records, nor did we commission anyone to do so. The story came from a member of the public. The member of the public has provided a written affidavit confirming this. We are not aware of Mr Brown or his family making a complaint at the time.Sunday Times:
We had 'reasonable grounds' to investigate the purchase of Mr Brown's property 'in the public interest'. They deny that they broke any law in investigating the purchase of the flat.
Met. Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, offers 'full support' to John Yates in statement.
James Forsyth in The Spectator:
Government support for Labour’s motion tomorrow is a victory for Ed Miliband — and it is a sign that whatever hold Murdoch had over British politics has been thoroughly broken by this scandal.
Assistant Commissioner John Yates to resign. She will ask Boris Johnson to support her call for his resignation at Mayor's Question Time on Wednesday.
Baroness Doocey commented:
“It is shameful that John Yates found time to have five lunches with News International, but after just a few hours decided there was no additional evidence to justify a further investigation into phone hacking. Yates has failed literally hundreds of victims.
While he remains in post as Assistant Commissioner of the Met, its reputation will not recover.He must take responsibility for this pitiful review and accept that he has lost all credibility.”
'The Home Secretary, who has remained very silent on this, should be talking to senior police officers across the country about how to take this forward to respond to public concerns, and make sure this could never happen again'.
“It is welcome news that the Government says it will support our motion. It is now for Rupert Murdoch to recognise the strength of public feeling, and the will of all the major parties.”
|@ paulwaugh : Jeremy Hunt can't back the Lab motion, No.10 says. If PM ducks out of facing EdM+ Hunt has legal role, who will reply for Govt? Cable? AG?|
Downing Street: Government will vote with Labour tomorrow to request that Rupert Murdoch withdraw his bid for BSkyB. Cameron, Clegg and Miliband to hold talks on hacking this evening
|@ GuidoFawkes : Stand by folks, story coming detailing @PiersMorgan's complicity in phone hacking. We're naming names and places. #CircularFiringSquad|
"If the House of Commons expresses a clear view about what is in the public interest for the bid to be withdrawn then that will help in making the right call.
"Mr Hunt said very clearly that everybody in the House of Commons apart from him because he's in a particular role, could express a view about whether Mr Murdoch should withdraw the bid. He said that in the House of Commons yesterday.
"That's why I hope as many people right across the House of Commons will support this motion as possible because I think what the public want us to do as a House of Commons, is to stand up and say it's not conceivable that Rupert Murdoch could expand his reach in the British media, while the issues that happeend at News International, while the issues of criminality are still being investigated and while there's so much that seems to be coming out day by day, and I think this is a moment when the House of Commons can rise to the occasion and can be a united House of Commons."
Lib Dems are expected to support Ed Miliband's motion, a source has told the Huffington Post.
"I hope the Government will support the motion, because I think it is in the interests of the country... the public will be saying to us 'this is an opportunity for politics to rise to the occasion'".
He says he hopes if the House of Commons comes to a consensus, then Mr Murdoch will listen to them.
"As for the position of Mr Yates [Assistant Met Commissioner John Yates], bluntly I find his position quite simply untenable. You can take this on three levels: we don’t know the full detail yet, so we don’t know whether darker elements are involved in this. There is always a question of corruption in the police and we don’t know the extent of that at the moment."
|@ SkyNewsBreak : Ed Miliband to hold talks with David Cameron and Nick Clegg on phone hacking scandal this evening|
'Please if you have anything that would support my investigation, now would be a good time to get it on the table. I've been in touch with Mr Watson, not yet Mr Bryant. From the amount of media coverage, it seems a lot of media outlets have information'.
A: "We'll always, we'll always be accused of that... With absolute confidence, because I know what's been there - for instance when there was speculation around victims of the 7/7 bombings, we did not know that they were contained within our material."
Initially it was difficult. I held a meeting at which for the first time 2 news int. executives came along. We discussed with them properly what 'full co-operation' means. After that things were much better. Will Lewis and Simon Greenberg were the people I spoke to.
"There must be people sitting on a lot of material"
|@ ChrisBryantMP : If brooks or murdochs refuse to attend dcms committee sergeant at arms can be empowered to force them.|
'only limited amount public inquiry can do whilst i'm still conducting my inquiry. i can tell you that for the 8 arrests already made, charges will not be made til October'
She says: "There's nothing to stop the Prime Minister naming the head of the Judge led inquiry" and indicates no charges until October
“There are times when the House of Commons has got to rise to the occasion and speak for the public.
“We have said that the purchase of BSkyB should not proceed until after criminal inquiries are complete.
“The simplest way to achieve this is for Rupert Murdoch to recognise the feelings of the public and the will of the House of Commons and withdraw this bid.
“I am calling on Parliament to show its will tomorrow.”
This House believes that it is in the public interest for Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation to withdraw their bid for BSkyB
500 people have written to ask if they had been hacked, of those 70 have been, Sue Akers says
Sue Akers, head of Operation Weeting (which is investigating phone hacking) tells the Committee of the process and ambitions of the inquiry will be:
We should note that we have been talking today with reference to a document published by the Guardian, which may contain inaccuracies. We have 45 full-time officers currently working on it, we can add more if necessary.
A vast number of people feel they have had their privacy violated. We have a commitment to inform people that they have been hacked. There are nearly 4000 names in the original Glenn Mulcaire documentation. We have undertaken to personally inform those affected. The mobile phone companies are helping us to compile a comprehensive list. We will be going round to see these affected people
|@ benfenton : News Corp has just announced a 5bn dollar share buyback. it does not necessarily mean they cannot buy BskyB by any means but v significant|
Then they will inform all the victims.