Three former executives of Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper group face sanctions from Parliament for misleading MPs carrying out an inquiry into phone hacking.
Colin Myler, the final editor of the News of the World, the former legal manager Tom Crone and Les Hinton, one-time chairman of News International, have been referred by MPs to the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee, which enforces Parliament's rules.
The committee could summon the three men for a public dressing-down, but one MP, Chris Bryant, said that it should also consider fines or imprisonment.
In its report earlier this month, the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee found News International had corporately misled Parliament by maintaining the bogus rogue reporter defence that phone hacking was the work of a single journalist, when it was widespread.
Speaking in a debate before the referral – agreed by MPs without a vote – the committee's chairman John Whittingdale, called for the misleading of a parliamentary committee to "bear profound consequences".
Mr Bryant, a former member of the committee, said he believed the case would prove to be "one of the most flagrant examples of a contempt of Parliament in history".
He told MPs: "It is not just that it was one person at one time, it was not just that it was one organisation for a brief period of time, it's that a whole series of people systematically, repeatedly lied so as to protect themselves, to protect their commercial interests and to try and make sure they didn't end up going to prison."
Messrs Myler, Crone and Hinton deny misleading the committee.