Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has endured a torrid day at the hands of members of the UK parliament as the fall-out from the tabloid phone hacking scandal continues to intensify.
The government has said it will back a motion put forward by the opposition requesting that News Corporation withdraw its bid to buy full control of the UK’s largest pay-TV broadcaster, BSkyB. The motion would not be binding but would put greater pressure on Murdoch to back down.
Parliament also wants to grill Murdoch and top executives of News International, News Corp’s UK newspaper arm, over what they knew about the alleged hacking of phones belonging to politicians, celebrities and also the families of dead soldiers and missing schoolgirls.
Along with his son James and News International CEO Rebekah Brooks, the media magnate has been invited to give evidence to a parliamentary committee next week.
For now, the committee is asking senior police officers why they did not investigate hacking allegations more thoroughly. The first accusations of phone hacking date back nearly six years.
Peter Clarke, who investigated the claims in 2006, told the committee he chose not to conduct an “exhaustive analysis” of 11,000 pages of documents, as resources were focussed on other issues such as counter-terrorism at the time.
However, Clarke did say that News International failed to cooperate fully with the probe and had demonstrated “prevarication and what we know now to be lies.”
The police service also faces claims of officers being paid for information by the now-defunct News of the World paper, the focus of accusations of illegal practices.
Prime Minister David Cameron has promised an enquiry will get to the truth. He said:
“This government has under way a proper police investigation, well resourced, and they will find the culprits and they will make sure they are punished. And we are also going to set up a proper judge-led independent inquiry that can call witnesses under oath so we find out what was going wrong at these newspapers.”
The scandal has hit News Corporation’s shares, working to the firm’s advantage as it now plans to buy back billions of euros worth – at a knock-down price.