The questions Murdoch, Murdoch and Brooks must answer

Rupert Murdoch, after four decades of influencing, bullying and belittling our democracy, will finally be held to account by Parliament today, and made to answer.

Rupert Murdoch, after four decades of influencing, bullying and belittling our democracy, will finally be held to account by Parliament today, and made to answer for the phone hacking scandal. The culture, media and sport select committee will quiz Murdoch and son James from 2:30, followed by Rebekah Brooks from 3:30.


Here are seven questions Left Foot Forward feels the committee should ask:

1). Members will want to know about the close ties between the News of the World and the police, and whether there was a cover up, and exactly what the three knew of the illegal activities.

They will demand to know how News International, the company they run, was involved in phone hacking on an industrial scale, made illegal payments to police officers and sought to “own” politicians.

2). Brooks, arrested on Sunday, will be limited in what she can say because of the ongoing police investigations, leaving Murdoch and Murdoch even more exposed – James in particular.

He will be asked why he authorised huge out-of-court payouts – £1 million to Max Clifford, £700,000 to Gordon Taylor – without asking why.

3). Likewise over the payments to the police – who signed off those payments? Exactly how much was paid?

Brooks herself, alongside the disgraced Andy Coulson in a previous select committee hearing, brazenly admitted bunging cash to police; she said “we have paid the police for information in the past” – this admission will be probed further.

4). MPs should also quiz the three on the claims of former select committe member and Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price, who says the committee were warned off further investigating Brooks, Coulson and NI “because there could be consequences”.

Such flagrant nobbling and contempt for democracy, Parliament and the public surely cannot go unanswered.

5). MPs will ask James Murdoch to justify his claim last week that Parliament had been “misled” over phone hacking at the News of the World, and to expand on his admission of “repeated wrongdoing” at the NotW, with all three asked about John Yates’s claim last week that NI “failed to co-operate” in his ill-fated review of the case.

6). On the cover-up, questions must be asked over the Guardian’s revelations earlier this month that millions of emails may have been deleted by News International executives to cover their tracks, “in an apparent attempt to obstruct Scotland Yard’s inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal”.

An (unnamed) senior executive is said to have deleted “massive quantities”.

7). And MPs will also want to ask James Murdoch about his statement two weeks ago that the News of the World “made statements to Parliament without being in full possession of the facts”.

Was it not the case that the paper was in possession of important facts it failed to disclose to MPs? Did the NotW deliberately mislead Parliament?

If yes, the punishments could be severe.

The hearings will take place in the Wilson Room in Portcullis House, with two overspill rooms for the expected, unprecedented crowds.

Earlier, Sir Paul Stephenson and John Yates, the former Met Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner, will face the home affairs select committee in the Grimond Room of Portcullis House, to be quizzed on “unauthorised tapping into or hacking of mobile communications”. Stephenson will appear at 12, Yates at 1:15.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.