News Corp. Hunkers Down: Murdochs to Testify Under Oath
A British High Court will hear the testimonies of top News Corp. executives in October
The British judge tasked with leading the phone hacking investigation in London plans to interrogate Rupert and James Murdoch under oath in the Royal Courts of Justice. According to The Telegraph's Christopher Hope, Lord Justice Leveson will begin the hearings in October and is expected to call for testimonies not only from the Murdochs but also former News International chief Rebekah Brooks, former News of the World editor Andy and possibly even Prime Minister David Cameron, who ordered the original inquiry. The list of anticipated witnesses and basic facts about the hearings were revealed when Leveson announced the inquiry in July, but some new details reiterate the seriousness of the proceedings.
"Lord Justice Leveson is thought to be keen for the proceedings to be broadcast live to ensure they are seen to be transparent," Hope reports. "The prospect of courtroom evidence will increase the impression that the Leveson inquiry is an unofficial 'trial' of key players in the phone hacking scandal."
As the courts move forward with the judicial inquiry into phone hacking, News Corp. is expanding their internal investigation into the practice. Under the leadership of former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein, the investigation team has already interviewed journalists with the The Sun tabloid and plans to start interviewing journalists at The Sunday Times in September. Reuters reports that preparing for an American investigation is a top priority for News Corp. lawyers:
Attorneys for Linklaters, the large London law firm leading the probe, will be looking for anything that U.S. government investigators might be able to construe as evidence the company violated American law, particularly the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits corrupt payments to foreign officials, a source familiar with the investigation told Reuters.
In addition to conducting personal interviews with selected journalists, lawyers will also be looking at email and financial records, said this source.
Meanwhile, the political theater of the ongoing probe has not been lost on London's thespian community. A group of writers is already working on an experimental play that aims to hack the phones of real-life volunteers. "We wanted to explore what was actually at the root of people's outrage," said Theatre503's associated director Derek Bond. "It wasn't just celebrities--it was grieving parents, missing teenagers, everybody. What if it was you?"