Police Testify Before Parliament in British Phone-Hacking Scandal

Posted July 12th, 2011 at 7:00 am (UTC-5)
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A British parliamentary committee Tuesday is to question senior London police officers about why they did not pursue a phone hacking investigation at the News of the World tabloid two years ago.

Media coverage of Britain's phone-hacking scandal is reaching a frenzied level. News reports allege Queen Elizabeth and former prime minister Gordon Brown were targeted by media companies owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Mr. Brown told the BBC that he was shocked to learn that Murdoch's newspapers were working with people he said were known criminals with records to obtain personal information about him.

British news reports Monday said police officers betrayed members of the royal family to the News of The World tabloid, and Brown had his bank account broken into by a con man acting for Murdoch's Sunday Times. Buckingham Palace has declined to comment on the reports.

Meanwhile, Scotland Yard accused unidentified individuals of trying to sabotage its sprawling investigation. The police said somebody was deliberately planting distracting information in the press.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Parliament members the events of last week shocked the nation and Britain's proud press tradition had been “shaken by the revelation of what we now know to have happened at the News of The World.”

Allegations that journalists at the News of the World hacked into phones of young murder victims, families of dead servicemen and terrorism victims caused Murdoch's News Corporation to close the tabloid.

The scandal also caused Murdoch to withdraw a promise to spin off the Sky News operation so his company could buy British Sky Broadcasting. The deal that had looked to be approved soon will now be delayed for several months of review by Britain's business competition authorities.

Some legal experts also said it is possible Murdoch's American companies may face criminal charges under the 1977 Corrupt Foreign Practices Act, a U.S. law designed to prosecute executives who bribe foreign officials.