UPDATE: Giving evidence to British MPs investigating the News Corp phone-hacking scandal this afternoon via video-link, former Wall Street Journal boss Les Hinton said he saw “no reason” why James Murdoch should resign. Hinton testified that he hasn’t spoken to the Metropolitan police about phone-hacking, nor has Viet Dinh, the independent News Corp board member who’s overseeing the company’s investigation into the scandal, questioned him. Hinton also wasn’t aware of any payments to police or other private detectives working for News International. And he was “not personally involved” in internal investigations into phone hacking at News International, the UK newspaper arm, when he was executive chairman. John Whittingdale, chairman of the UK parliamentary committee cross-examining Hinton, was overheard telling a fellow MP that Hinton’s evidence was “interesting, but that there was no bombshell there.”
PREVIOUS: News Corp deputy COO James Murdoch will face British MPs for a second time on November 10. He will defend himself as to whether he misled British politicians investigating the phone-hacking at the News Of The World. The $64,000 question is this: Did James pay $1.4M in hush money in 2008 to a hacking victim who could have disclosed that the scandal ran much deeper than the company publicly admitted? James said he didn’t. But three former News executives dispute the testimony he gave in July when he last faced MPs. His enemies say either James knew more about hacking than he admitted or, as chairman of UK newspaper arm News International, he ought to have known. Les Hinton, the former Wall Street Journal boss and Rupert Murdoch confidante, has been called to testify today.
I’m sure that Murdoch will be better prepared and better scripted this time around, and will merely repeat what he said before. MPs still have to come up with a smoking gun. In fact, having seen off last week’s threat to oust him, his brother Lachlan and father Rupert from News Corp’s board, James appears more solid in his position than he has been for months. There is a sense here that the heat is going out of the phone-hacking investigations. Partly the UK government does not want to rock the boat, despite what it says publicly, and partly journos giving evidence to the separate Leveson Inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal are scared for their careers.