London, Jul 15: Bowing to pressure from British lawmakers and others, father-son duo Rupert and James Murdoch on Thursday decided to attend the key meeting of a House of Commons committee next week to explain their position on the phone-hacking case.
Earlier in the day, the Murdochs, who are US citizens, had informed the Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairman, John Whittingdale, that they would not be able to attend it, following which a summons was served on them. Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International and a British citizen, had agreed to appear before the committee that will be telecast live to a large audience. After the summons were served on the Murdochs, a spokesman of News Corporation said: “We are in the process of writing to the select committee with the intention that Mr James Murdoch and Mr Rupert Murdoch will attend next Tuesday's meeting.”
Rupert Murdoch had earlier announced that he would depose before the judge-led inquiry announced by Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday.Before agreeing to attend the committee meeting,Rupert Murdoch wrote to Whttingdale: “Unfortunately, I am not available to attend the session you have planned next Tuesday. However, I am fully prepared to give evidence to the forthcoming judge-led public inquiry and I will be taking steps to notify those conducting the inquiry of my willingness to do so.”
However, after the House of Commons summons were served, there has been a change of stand Brooks was editor of News of the World when phones were allegedly hacked at the behest of the tabloid for information to be used in sensations stories. In a related development, Neil Wallis, former executive editor of the News of the World and former member of the Editors' Code of Practice Committee, was arrested this morning on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications.
One of the victims of phone hacking is now reported to be the family of Jean-Charles de Menezes, who was killed by the police on the London Tube after being mistaken for a suicide bomber in 2005.
According to the family, details about the phone number of his cousin Alex Perreira were found in documents seized from Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who worked at the behest of News of the World and was jailed for phone hacking in 2007.
In a candid interview, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg today accused Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks of exercising power without responsibility, and said it “cannot be right” that a number of journalists and people working in the News of the World office lost their jobs as a result of the phone hacking scandal while “people higher up the food chain took no responsibility or accountability for what happened”.
Speaking to the BBC, Clegg said it was “always unhealthy” if people had power without responsibility.Cautioning against being too fixated on News International in the wake of the hacking scandal, he said the problem was wider. PTI