London - Rupert Murdoch and two senior executives have been called before an influential British parliamentary committee that scrutinises the media to answer questions about the growing phone-hacking scandal that has shaken his UK newspaper group, a panel member said on Tuesday.
Labour lawmaker Tom Watson, who sits on parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said the panel wanted to speak to News Corp boss Murdoch, his son James and Rebekah Brooks, who runs News Corp’s British newspaper arm News International, at a session next week.
They would be asked about the phone-hacking crisis that led to the closure of Murdoch’s best-selling News of the World Sunday newspaper and about allegations that some of his staff may have paid police officers for information, he added.
“We have got a number of questions we want to ask the three of them,” Watson told BBC Radio 4. “We have invited them and we want them there next Tuesday.”
In a statement, News International, part of News Corp , said it would “co-operate” with the request. A News International spokesperson declined to elaborate and would not say if that means the three will go before the committee.
“We have been made aware of the request from the CMS Committee to interview senior executives and will cooperate. We await the formal invitation,” the statement said.
Watson said it was possible the three would turn down the request.
Asked if the committee could compel the three executives to attend, Watson told BBC radio: “There is lots of arcane procedure as to this, but we will be sitting next Tuesday and we expect them to be there. I suspect that some of them might be too cowardly to turn up, but that’s up to them to decide. Parliament has the responsibility to hold these people to account. They should come to parliament and explain themselves.”