News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch’s recall before the British Parliament’s Culture Committee has been delayed by pending trials of his staff for hacking phones and paying bribes.
The committee chairman, John Whittingdale, wrote to Murdoch in July requesting he return to testify, after a recording was released of him discussing the investigation into whether his British newspapers broke the law. At the time, the committee said he would appear later this year.
Whittingdale said today the hearing would be delayed to avoid compromising trials of News Corp. journalists and executives scheduled to start next week.
“The committee took legal advice that there was a risk that any questions we put to Mr. Murdoch might prejudice the ongoing trials,” Whittingdale said in an e-mailed statement. “On that basis we decided not to pursue it at this stage, but we reserve the right to call him back when the trials are over.”
Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of the company’s U.K. newspaper unit, and Andy Coulson, who like Brooks edited the now-defunct News of the World tabloid, are among defendants going on trial next week.
Murdoch wrote to lawmakers in July that he “used the wrong adjectives” to describe the police investigation when speaking to staff on his British newspapers. The conversation was secretly recorded by one of the journalists present. The News Corp. chairman described the transcript of the March meeting as “selective.”
Police have made more than 100 arrests, including former News Corp. journalists and staff, in probes of wrongdoing at the company’s U.K. publications triggered by the discovery two years ago that the News of the World listened to messages on the mobile phone of a murdered teenager. News Corp. (NWSA:US) split its broadcast and newspaper units into different companies following the scandal.
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