MPs 'under pressure to call off hacking investigation'


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The Independent Online

New evidence about the depths that Rupert Murdoch's News International plumbed while trying to cover up widespread lawbreaking among its redtop journalists is to be made public today.

A new book Dial M for Murdoch, by the campaigning Labour MP Tom Watson and The Independent's Martin Hickman, will detail the pressure applied to MPs to hold off from investigating the phone-hacking scandal. Among the disclosures are the behaviour of Britain's biggest newspaper group towards members of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee while it was challenging the cover-up.

Politicians who sought to focus attention on illegal newsgathering techniques at News International's headquarters in Wapping, east London, have already spoken of the attempts by the company to stifle Parliament's examination.

Watson himself was the target of persistent pressure – often communicated through News International's senior political friends – to soften his questioning of News International executives while the committee was finding holes in the company's story.

It is already known that he was put under surveillance by the News of the World, who commissioned a private detective to follow him in an attempt to dig up evidence about his private life.

The book, which gives an account of how Murdoch's British newspaper group came to exert a strong hold on media, politics and policing, details the progress of the strangely botched original police investigation into hacking in 2006.

Dial M for Murdoch charts the legal battle fought by the Manchester-based lawyers Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris against News International and the Met to uncover evidence of phone hacking at the News of the World.

Also covered is the close alignment between the media policy of David Cameron's Conservative Party and News Corp.

Independent journalist and MP Tom Watson release book on phone hacking