James Murdoch asked to clarify hacking testimony

LONDON - July 29, 2011

Murdoch, News Corp's deputy chief operating officer, and his father, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, testified about the widening allegations of phone tapping and bribery at the Murdoch-owned News of the World tabloid.

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee said Friday it now wanted more information from the younger Murdoch because his testimony was disputed by Colin Myler, former News of the World editor and Tom Crone, and former lawyer of the tabloid's holding company, News International.

The two men released a statement contradicting Murdoch's claim that he was not aware of an email containing information about hacked voicemails, saying they did inform him of the document.

John Whittingdale, the parliamentary committee's chair, said he was writing Murdoch, Myler and Crone for clarification.

"We are going to write to ask for further details from various areas where evidence is disputed," Whittingdale said.

He said the committee decided not to take the additional step of recalling Murdoch to another hearing, saying they wanted to consider his written answers first.

"We want to hear exactly how they dispute that. I suspect it very likely that we will want to hear oral evidence. If they do come back with statements that are quite plainly different from those given by James Murdoch, we will want to hear James Murdoch's response to that," he said.

James Murdoch had said he stood by his testimony but would provide a written response to follow-up questions.

His father said during last Tuesday's hearing that he accepted no responsibility for wrongdoing amid widening claims that News of the World illegally accessed cell phone messages and bribed police to get information on celebrities, politicians and crime victims.

Earlier Friday, a British man who interrupted the hearing when he threw a shaving-cream pie at the tycoon was convicted of assault and causing harassment.

Jonathan May-Bowles hurled a paper plate with a pile of shaving cream at Murdoch on July 19 as he was giving evidence to a committee. The activist, who admitted the crime during an appearance at the Westminster Magistrates' Court, was due to be sentenced on Aug. 2.

Also Friday, the head of Britain's press watchdog stepped down amid heavy criticism about the organization's handling of the scandal.

Peta Jane Buscombe said she will not continue as chairman of the Press Complaints Commission after her term ends next year.

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