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Hacking: Another arrest with calls for US probe and Murdoch to face questions

The phone hacking scandal that has engulfed Rupert Murdoch’s media empire has spread to the US.

Rupert Murdoch in London last night.
Rupert Murdoch in London last night.
Image: Press Association

Updated 11.15am

POLICE IN THE UK have arrested another person in connection with the phone hacking scandal as there are growing calls for News Corporation owner Rupert Murdoch to appear before a parliamentary select committee.

Scotland Yard has said it has arrested a 60-year-old man at a residential address in London in connection with the London Metropolitan Police’s investigation into phone hacking by News of the World and potentially other newspapers under Murdoch’s ownership.

Sky News reports that the man arrested is Neil Wallis, a former executive editor of the News of the World, which was shut down last week following the emergence of allegations that people working for the newspaper hacked the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Wallis was deputy editor of the newspaper between 2003 and 2007 during which Andy Coulsen – who was until recently David Cameron’s spokesperson – was editor of the newspaper.

Coulsen was forced to resign as the UK prime minister’s communications chief earlier this year amid allegations that he knew about phone hacking at the newspaper, allegations he has continually denied.

Earlier this morning, the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said that Murdoch should appear before the House of Commons committee examining the scandal that has engulfed Murdoch’s multi-billion pound empire.

Yesterday, under mounting political and public pressure, Murdoch’s company was forced to abandon its proposed takeover of satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

“If they have any shred of sense of responsibility or accountability for their position of power, then they should come and explain themselves before a select committee”, Clegg told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.

The committee on culture, media and sport has asked Rupert and his son, the chairman and CEO of News Corporation, James Murdoch to appear before it to answer questions about the scandal next Tuesday.

Rebekah Brooks, CEO of News International which is a subsidiary of News Corp, has also been asked to appear before the committee to answer questions.

Neither of the three have responded to the request.

As US citizens, both Murdochs are under no obligation to attend. Brooks can be compelled by the House of Commons but such instances are rare, indeed the last time someone was compelled to appear before a select committee was back in the 1950s.

BBC News reports that MPs will meet today to decide on whether or not to summon Brooks.

The BBC also reports that a number of US congressman have joined calls from Democratic senator Jay Rockefeller for US authorities to consider whether journalists working for News Corp have broken US law as well as whether victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks may have had their phones hacked.

Peter King, a Republican who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has written to the FBI to ask them to investigate according to the Telegraph.

Journalists working for Murdoch’s company in the UK could be prosecuted under US law if they are found to have engaged in illegal activities.

Read more on the hacking scandal that has been dubbed ‘Britain’s Watergate’ here >

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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