U.K. lawmakers wrote to an Indian technology company to find out if it was asked by News Corp. to delete e-mails as part of a parliamentary probe into phone hacking at the now defunct News of the World tabloid.
Keith Vaz, the chairman of the U.K. Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee, asked New Delhi-based HCL Technologies Ltd. whether it holds e-mails for News Corp.’s British unit, News International, in its storage facilities in India. He also asked whether the media company ever asked to have those messages deleted, the committee said in a statement today.
Police and at least two parliamentary committees are investigating whether News of the World reporters bribed police and the extent to which politicians, celebrities, and murder and terror victims had their voicemail hacked. The scandal led to the resignation of senior News Corp. executives and Metropolitan Police officials, and the closure of the tabloid.
Ranjana Sharma, a spokeswoman for HCL, declined to comment. Vaz also wrote to Harbottle & Lewis LLP asking that the law firm disclose the advice it gave News International over e-mails it was asked to examine in 2007 as part of the company’s internal phone-hacking probe.
News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son James told Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sports Committee on July 19 that they relied on a 2007 investigation into phone hacking at the paper that said the practice didn’t extend beyond a former reporter and private investigator who were jailed. Harbottle & Lewis said client confidentiality rules prevented it from defending itself against the Murdochs’ claims.
Ken Macdonald, the former director of Public Prosecutions in the U.K. who had been hired by News Corp. earlier this year to review the evidence, told the Home Affairs Committee evidence in files the law firm had indicated “serious criminal offenses” may have taken place at the tabloid.
Harbottle & Lewis previously told Vaz in a letter that the file was “closed and archived” and it couldn’t disclose information.
“Documents supplied by a client to his solicitor for the purpose of taking legal advice cannot be disclosed by the solicitor to third parties, including the police, unless the solicitor is either compelled to do so or has the permission of his client,” the firm said.
Harbottle & Lewis didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.