Shareholders press James Murdoch for answers

Pressure mounts on News Corporation executive over why 2008 email that warned of extensive phone-hacking was ignored

James Murdoch is facing fresh questions from angry shareholders about the true extent of his knowledge of an email warning him about extensive phone hacking at the News of the World (NOTW). An influential US pension fund, California State Teachers' Retirement System (Calstrs), which owns $500m of News Corp shares, wants to know why the email – the existence of which Mr Murdoch admitted last week – was not revealed sooner.

Anne Sheehan, director of corporate governance at Calstrs, says the timing of the admission raises a number of issues. "Did some people know about this before News Corp's annual general meeting [in October] and did they delay its release?" she asks. "One has to wonder if the timing of this is related to the timing of the vote."

Mr Murdoch has said he didn't properly read the email, sent in June 2008, which warned that hacking was "as bad as we feared". In a letter last week he said he did not review the full email chain of four messages then or later, in part because it had been sent to his BlackBerry on a weekend. Lawyers for the News Corp committee that is overseeing a trawl through the company's files said they had only "recently become aware" of the key piece of evidence and declined to elaborate.

In his two appearances before a parliamentary select committee inquiry, in July and November this year, Mr Murdoch said he was unaware of any such notification. Nor did he recall any conversation with NOTW's editor, Colin Myler, soon afterwards.

Tom Watson, the MP at the forefront of the inquiry, said last night: "There is an army of lawyers and PR people advising Mr Murdoch on this matter. It stretches credulity to suggest this email has only just been discovered in recent days." He said he would seek to find out which employees were aware of the emails.

James Murdoch's latest admission increases the prospect of him being charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, according to lawyers.

Thomas Fox, a lawyer based in Houston, Texas, said the admission was "significant" because the email was opened before the alleged hacking at the News of the World ended. "It puts him more squarely in the firing line because he was formally put on notice," he told The Daily Telegraph. "That email stopped allowing him to bury his head in the sand."

Jeffrey Grell, a lawyer who has written books on RICO, added: "In a jury's mind, it created a big question over whether they believe he didn't read the whole email." Mr Murdoch has not been questioned or arrested in connection with any offence.

News International's involvement in phone hacking is set to be scrutinised again this week at the Leveson inquiry into press standards, when a sports reporter, Matt Driscoll, and Stuart Hoare, the brother of the late Sean Hoare – like Driscoll, a former employee of the NOTW – give evidence.

Suggested Topics
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial