The decision by parliament’s Culture Media And Sport committee to recall James Murdoch and Les Hinton could be important. But it isn’t surprising. The committee investigating the News Of The World hacking scandal has a lot of questions about whether Murdoch may have tried to cover up the defunct tabloid’s lawbreaking now that two former executives have contradicted one of the News Corp Deputy COO’s key claims. Murdoch says he believed only one reporter had been involved with phone hacking in 2008 when he agreed to pay a hacking victim an astronomical $1.4M settlement on the condition that the victim keep quiet about the matter. At the time, the company publicly said that hacking was limited to a single rogue reporter. But former NOTW lawyer Tom Crone and editor Colin Myler recently told the committee that before Murdoch agreed to the payoff, he had seen an email that made it clear a second reporter could be implicated in the case. The committee also wants to know about News Corp payments to two people convicted of hacking: former NOTW reporter Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
No dates have been set yet for Murdoch and Hinton’s next public appearance at the committee. Chairman John Whittingdale says members first want to quiz Hinton, who ran News International in 2008 and also denied knowing about the extent of the hacking then. The long-time Murdoch loyalist recently resigned from his job as CEO of Dow Jones, which includes The Wall Street Journal.