Here is more fodder for the UK parliamentary committee that is scheduled to hear testimony from News Corp deputy COO James Murdoch on Thursday: It looks like the conglomerate’s now-defunct News of the World hired an investigator to tail a pair of lawyers that were representing victims of the UK tabloid’s phone-hacking scandal. The BBC reported that the surveillance of Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris took place during the 18 months that James was executive chairman of News International, the UK newspaper arm of News Corp and the parent company of NOTW. The practice included having Derek Webb, a former police officer who ran a private-eye agency, follow and film Lewis’ family — including his teenage daughter — in an effort to dig up dirt on the lawyer and stop him from taking more cases as the scandal grew (Lewis represented the family of Milly Dowler, the murdered schoolgirl whose voicemails were hacked into by NOTW, a revelation that most directly led to the tabloid’s demise). Said News International in a statement: “While surveillance is not illegal, it was clearly deeply inappropriate in these circumstances. This action was not condoned by any current executive at the company.” The BBC said Webb is speaking out about the practice because News International has not paid him for his services; he had been working for the tabloid for eight years.
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