Tom Watson, the U.K. lawmaker who has pursued an investigation of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World newspaper for two years, said documents on hacking submitted to Parliament’s Culture Committee were “dynamite.”
Murdoch’s son James was among those who had until yesterday to supply written answers to questions from the committee following testimony by the Murdochs last month about phone hacking at the now-defunct tabloid.
After that session, former News of the World editor Colin Myler and the paper’s lawyer Tom Crone issued a statement saying James Murdoch had been “mistaken” in aspects of it. Jonathan Chapman, a former lawyer for the newspaper’s publisher, News Corp.’s News International, complained of “serious inaccuracies” about his own role. All were asked to supply written evidence to the committee by yesterday.
“Reading documents related to hacking that I’m not allowed to reveal,” Watson said yesterday in a Twitter Inc. message that was confirmed by Bloomberg News. “They’re dynamite though.”
Watson didn’t provide further details on the nature of the documents.
Referring to journalists who may ask to see the documents, Watson added: “And no point in journos asking for them. Parliament’s rules prohibit me from doing so until my committee considers them next Tuesday. We can decide to publish then. I’m voting yes!”
Harbottle & Lewis
Harbottle & Lewis LLP, a law firm that has worked for the tabloid, has asked for privilege to be waived so that it too could respond. The firm also had until yesterday to turn written evidence.
Julie Henderson, a spokeswoman for New York-based News Corp., declined to comment on the tweet.
News Corp. fell 19 cents to $16 at 9:34 a.m. New York time on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Before today, it had retreated 10 percent since July 4, when the Guardian newspaper in the U.K. said that News of the World reporters had hacked into the telephone of a murdered teenager in 2002 and altered voice mails.
The scandal that followed led to the arrests of at least 12 people, the resignations of two News Corp. executives, the shutdown of the 168-year-old tabloid and the termination of New Corp.’s 7.8 billion-pound ($12.7 billion) bid to buy the 61 percent of British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc it doesn’t own.
“I’ve run this company for more than 50 years,” Murdoch, who is chairman and chief executive officer of News Corp., said on a conference call about quarterly earnings this week. “The kind of behavior that occurred in that newsroom has no place at News Corporation. We are all committed to doing the right thing. We have taken decisive actions to hold people accountable.”
James Murdoch is deputy chief operating officer of News Corp., which also owns film studios and the Wall Street Journal.
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