James Murdoch appears at Leveson Inquiry

 

James Murdoch will be grilled today about his stewardship of News International during the years when the phone-hacking scandal was growing.

The media boss will be asked about his time in charge of his father's UK national newspapers when he gives evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.

He is likely to face fresh questions about when he learned that phone-hacking was not restricted to a single “rogue reporter”.

Two News of the World executives claim they warned him in June 2008 that the practice of illegally intercepting voicemail messages extended beyond the paper's former royal editor Clive Goodman, who was jailed in January 2007.

Mr Murdoch, 39, admitted last month that he shares the blame for not uncovering hacking sooner but denied turning a “blind eye” to alleged wrongdoing.

He has already faced tough questioning about his knowledge of phone-hacking at the News of the World in two appearances before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Mr Murdoch stood down as executive chairman of News International in February and resigned as BSkyB chairman earlier this month.

His father Rupert, 81, the chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, will give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry tomorrow and on Thursday.

He is expected to be asked about the phone-hacking scandal, his oversight of his UK newspapers, and his influence over British politicians.

Mr Murdoch senior told MPs last year he met David Cameron “within days” of the 2010 general election and was invited to Downing Street by Gordon Brown “many times”. Tony Blair is godfather to one of his children.

The News of the World was closed down last July after revelations that it listened to the voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

News Corp still owns The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times, and has a 39% stake in satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

The Leveson Inquiry has a wide-ranging remit to examine the culture, practices and ethics of the press, and make recommendations for the future regulation of British newspapers.

It has already taken evidence on unethical and possibly illegal behaviour by journalists, and on relations between police and newspapers.

Inquiry chairman Lord Justice Leveson is now turning to contacts between politicians and the national press.

The first part of the inquiry, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, is looking at the culture, practices and ethics of the press in general and is due to produce a report by October.

The second part, examining the extent of unlawful activities by journalists, will not begin until detectives have completed their investigation into alleged phone hacking and corrupt payments to police, and any prosecutions have been concluded.

Mr Murdoch was driven into the Royal Courts of Justice in a black Range Rover through a gate off The Strand just before 9am.

PA

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