July 8 (Bloomberg) -- News Corp. executives have questions to answer over payments made to victims of phone-hacking at the News of the World newspaper and police should feel they can “question anyone,” U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said.
Announcing the closure of the 168-year-old British tabloid yesterday, James Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer of News Corp., said out-of-court settlements he approved that included non-disclosure agreements were “wrong” and “a matter of serious regret.”
“The statement yesterday leaves all sorts of questions to be answered,” Cameron told a news conference in London today, when asked whether the payments amounted to an attempt to cover up illegal acts. “The police have got the resources and the skill to follow the evidence anywhere it leads, to question anyone, no matter how high or low.”
The settlements were criticized in Parliament during an emergency debate on July 6, when opposition Labour Party lawmaker Tom Watson said James Murdoch should face criminal charges and was unsuitable to be a director of the company.
Among those who received payments was Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, after his lawyers uncovered an e-mail suggesting more than one journalist at the News of the World knew Taylor’s phone had been hacked, the paper’s editor, Colin Myler, said in July 2009. James Murdoch, the son of News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, approved the 700,000-pound ($1.1 million) payment, he said.
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