Wednesday, 24 August 2011

MP seeks details from Murdoch firm

THE PENINSULA, LONDON: A leading lawmaker examining the country’s phone hacking scandal called yesterday on Rupert Murdoch’s news empire to confirm whether it is paying the legal fees of the ex-editor of the News of The World.
Andy Coulson quit in 2007 as the editor of the now shuttered tabloid after a reporter and a private investigator were jailed for hacking into the voicemails of royal staff. Soon after, then-opposition leader David Cameron hired him as his communications chief and kept him on when Cameron became prime minister in May 2010.
Coulson quit Downing Street when police reopened the investigation into phone hacking this January. He is among 15 people arrested in the scandal — only one of whom has been cleared so far. Coulson denies any wrongdoing, but allegations against him and about his ties to News Corp. have continued to mount.
News Corp.’s British arm, News International, declined to comment yesterday on a Financial Times report which claimed the company was still meeting Coulson’s legal expenses.
“What it is about this news and information conglomerate that prevents them from giving a yes or no reply to a straight question,” opposition Labour Party lawmaker Tom Watson said.
Watson has been a leading figure in the campaign to expose illicit practices in British journalism, and is a member of Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which is investigating the scandal. “I call on James Murdoch to just say whether or not his company is paying Andy Coulson’s legal fees,” Watson said.   AP

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