The Culture, Media and Sport select committee will issue summons to Rupert Murdoch and his son to appear before them next Tuesday, after they refused the committee’s request for them to answer Parliament – while Rebekah Brooks, the former News of the World editor at the centre of the phone hacking scandal, will face Parliament at 2:30pm on Tuesday.
Committee chairman John Whittingdale told Sky News:
“The committee has received responses. Rebekah Brooks has said she will attend… Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch have said they will not attend… They wil be formally summoned by the House authroities…
“The last time this happened was when Kevin Maxwell was required to attend the Social Security committee – he did so.”
And the BBC:
“The formal summons will be issued in person by the Deputy Sergeant at Arms… [If they don’t respond] that will be a matter for the House as a whole, it will be the decision of the House how to proceed… There is a huge public interest here… Given the scale of public anger, the very least that should happen is they appear…
“Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch should appear and account for what has gone on… The summons are being delivered as we speak.”
While in the last half an hour, Leader of the House Sir George Young told the Commons there are a range of sanctions available for non-compliance, including fines and imprisonment. The matter will go to the House, who will then decide whether the Murdochs are in contempt of Parliament. Sir George, however, did not say whether Parliament had the power to punish foreign nationals for defying Parliament.
Responding to the latest developments, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told Sky News this lunchtime:
“I think it is important that when a committee asks people to attend, they should… It is important that elected representatives can ask the questions the public want asked… It is important Parliament is allowed to ask these questoins; we all want to see as much transparency as possible…
“Victims of crime and terrorism had their phones hacked, not in the public interest but in pursuit of a newspaper story. When that kind of thing happens people do want answers.”
And the BBC:
“I think that Parliamentary committees have played a very important part already in uncovering some of the shocking things that have happened, people really do want answers… I do hope obviously the Murdochs will comply as Rebekah Brooks has said she will.
“People have an obligation not just to respect Parliament, but also to provide answers… People have been really distressed and troubled… Getting some answers from senior people in charge of the organisations where these allegations have been made, i think is important…
“You already heard Parliament express its views yesterday wiht a united voice that it would not be appropriate for to take over BSKyB… It is very important that News International cooperate not only with the criminal investagation but with Parliament as well.”