Murdoch to explain bribery, phone-hacking remark in Parliament

July 9, 2013 at 5:16 PM
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LONDON, July 9 (UPI) -- News Corp. said Chairman Rupert Murdoch will explain to Parliament his remark that payments to public officials are commonplace for British media.

A spokeswoman for the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport said Tuesday the committee would invite Murdoch to elaborate on a comment he made in March that bribing public officials is part of the "culture of Fleet Street" -- the nickname for the London media sector.

"Mr. Murdoch welcomes the opportunity to return to the Select Committee and answer their questions," News Corp. said Tuesday in a statement, the Los Angeles Times reported. "He looks forward to clearing up any misconceptions as soon as possible."

Murdoch made the comment while speaking to executives and journalists at his London tabloid The Sun, in which he called London police "totally incompetent" and said the official investigation into telephone hacking and bribery by journalists who work for him was "the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing."

The British investigative news website Exaro obtained the audio of Murdoch's remarks and made it public last week.

In 2012, Murdoch told an inquiry headed by Judge Brian Leveson "paying police officers for information is wrong" and said his appearance before Parliament was "the most humble day in my life."

Murdoch told his employees at the March meeting London's Metropolitan Police Service, known as Scotland Yard, is prolonging the News International phone-hacking scandal investigation.

"It's just getting dragged out and dragged out through incompetence," he said. "It's a disgrace. Here we are, two years later, and the cops are totally incompetent."

Murdoch told his employees he will "do everything in my power to give you total support, even if you're convicted and get six months or whatever."

"I'm not allowed to promise you -- I will promise you continued health support -- but your jobs: I've got to be careful what comes out -- but frankly, I won't say it, but just trust me, OK?" he said.

News Corp. said it is cooperating with police on Operation Elveden and said Murdoch's comments in March indicated an "understandable empathy" with staff, the BBC reported.

A British prison guard, his former partner and three journalists who allegedly paid them off face charges, the Crown Prosecution Service said Monday.

Tom Savage, deputy news editor of the Daily Star Sunday, Chris Pharo, head of news at The Sun, and Lucy Panton, former crime editor at the defunct News of the World, allegedly paid thousands of pounds to Scott Chapman, a guard at Woodhill Prison in Milton Keynes, and Lynn Gaffney, his girlfriend, The Guardian reported. The money was allegedly paid for information on a high-profile prisoner.

Savage is the first journalist from outside Rupert Murdoch's empire to be charged as a result of Operation Elveden, the Metropolitan Police investigation that began with the phone-hacking scandal.

All five are scheduled to appear in court July 18. Chapman and Gaffney face four counts each of conspiracy to commit misconduct in office, while the journalists each face a single count of the same charge.

Prosecutors say Chapman and Gaffney received 35,150 pounds (more than $50,000) in 2010 and 2011 for information used in 48 news stories in seven newspapers.

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