Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 8, 2011 11:01 AM
Rupert Murdoch’s son James will be giving a second round of evidence to a House of Commons select committee this week. According to PaidContent, evidence has emerged that Murdoch's now-shuttered London-based newspaper The News of the World hired a private investigator for video surveillance of Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris over the past 18 months, two lawyers representing phone-hacking victims as “part of an attempt to gather evidence for false smears about their private lives.”
Lewis and Harris represented Gordon Taylor and Max Clifford, the first hacking victims to sue the company for hacking their phones. PI Derek Webb has been employed by News of the World since 2003 and physically trailed “hundreds of targets including members of the royal family and serving cabinet ministers,” writes PC. Webb’s surveillance included family members and associates of Lewis and Harris, even targeting Harris’ two young children as well as John Prescott when he was deputy prime minister and Charles Clarke, former home secretary.
When Murdoch appears before MP’s of the culture media and sport select committee, he will likely admit that News Corp should have done more in investigating the phone hacking and not seen it as the actions of a single rogue reporter.
Three years elapsed between when the first allegations appeared and 2010 when reports of just how widespread the practice started emerging. Murdoch earlier claimed no knowledge of his predecessor Hinton’s payment to News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman, even though Murdoch himself later paid Gordon Taylor to settle a separate phone hacking lawsuit.
Controversy continues to swirl around the Goodman payout and an email about the extent of hacking that former News of the World editor Colin Myler and chief lawyer Tom Crone say Murdoch was told about. Murdoch denies knowledge of the email and of a separate report prepared for Crone stating a "culture of illegal information access" existed at the News of the World.
News Corp's acting chief lawyer Janet Nova is flying to the U.K. to be present with Murdoch as he prepares concessionary remarks, “surrounded” by advice-givers confusing the situation, reports The Guardian.
Murdoch will not respond to queries about former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks’s severance package rumored to be larger than £1.7m, claiming ‘contractual confidentiality.’
Roiling the journalistic waters, lengthy pieces have recently appeared in New York magazine and Vanity Fair. Fittingly, both lack on-the-record sources.