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British prime minister adds to pressure on James Murdoch in hacking scandal

LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday said James Murdoch, scion of Rupert Murdoch's media empire, should be recalled by Parliament to address allegations he misled lawmakers in his testimony on Britain's phone hacking.

Further upping the pressure on Murdoch, an opposition lawmaker, Tom Watson of the Labour Party, called for a police investigation into whether he lied.

At issue is whether News Corp. executives knew of the widespread practice of phone-hacking at their now-defunct News of the World tabloid — which illegally accessed the phones of thousands of British citizens — and whether the executives tried to cover it up.

On Tuesday, while testifying beside his father before a British select committee, James Murdoch, 38, denied having ever seen a key piece of evidence in a case that emerged in 2008 — an e-mail suggesting that phone hacking went as high as the tabloid's chief correspondent. But after two former News Corp. executives cast doubt on his assertion — saying they personally had shown the younger Murdoch the e-mail in question — some British lawmakers insisted he should be recalled to address the discrepancy.

Cameron, who is under pressure for his close ties to News Corp. executives arrested over the hacking scandal, echoed those calls.

James Murdoch, in a statement, said, "I stand behind my testimony to the select committee."

In another development, U.S. Justice Department prosecutors are preparing subpoenas as part of their inquiry into allegations that News Corp. employees sought to hack into the phones of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and tried to bribe law enforcement officers for information, the Washington Post reported Friday, citing unidentified sources. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is not public.

The subpoenas would seek information from the company related to the hacking scandal that has engulfed Rupert Murdoch's British media operations, the sources said. Murdoch is chairman and chief executive of News Corp., which is based in New York and has many U.S. operations.

British prime minister adds to pressure on James Murdoch in hacking scandal 07/22/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 22, 2011 11:54pm]
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