Rupert Murdoch

UK phone-hacking probe to recall Rupert Murdoch over secret tape

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 July, 2013, 3:42am

British lawmakers said they would recall media mogul Rupert Murdoch to clarify evidence he gave last year after he was secretly recorded belittling a police inquiry into alleged crimes committed by journalists on his papers.

Murdoch told staff at The Sun tabloid in a private meeting in March that he had been wrong to help the police investigation into illegal tactics, which he said the industry had used for decades, comments that sharply contrasted with the profuse public apologies he had given parliament's media committee.

Murdoch, the head of News Corp and 21st Century Fox, had described himself then as humbled and appalled by the revelations of illegality and phone-hacking that forced the closure of his prized News of the World tabloid two years ago.

"The committee has voted to ask him to reappear in light of the comments he made to News International staff," committee chairman John Whittingdale said, adding that a date had not been set for the hearing.

The Sun meeting was secretly recorded and broadcast last week, and yesterday police told lawmakers they were seeking to obtain a copy of the recording.

"We are seeking to obtain … the tape of the meeting during which Rupert Murdoch appears to have been recorded and we will then assess the full contents of that tape," London Police Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick told parliament's Home Affairs Committee.

In one part of the transcript, Murdoch tells his staff, some of whom have been arrested in the bribery probe: "payments for news tips from cops: that's been going on 100 years, absolutely. You didn't instigate it."

He said one of the first things he saw when he bought the News of the World tabloid in 1969 was a safe full of money that he was told was for bribes.

Mary Kearney, a London spokeswoman for News Corp's British unit in London, said the company had no comment on the matter. The company said last week that it would be "absolutely false" to suggest Murdoch knew of payments to police.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg