Ex-WSJ publisher to give phone hacking testimony

October 11, 2011 - 9:45 AM
Britain-Phone Hacking

FILE - This Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008 file photo shows Les Hinton, then CEO of Dow Jones & Co., in his office in New York. Rupert Murdoch's former right-hand man will be grilled by British lawmakers on how much he knew about the phone hacking scandal, lawmakers said Tuesday Oct. 11, 2011. Parliament's media committee, which is investigating the scandal, said that former Wall Street Journal publisher and top Murdoch aide Les Hinton would testify via video link on Oct. 24. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

LONDON (AP) — Rupert Murdoch's former right-hand man will be questioned by British lawmakers on how much he knew about the phone hacking scandal, lawmakers said Tuesday.

Parliament's media committee, which is investigating the scandal, said that former Wall Street Journal publisher and top Murdoch aide Les Hinton would testify by video link Oct. 24.

The announcement was made in a brief scheduling note emailed to journalists and didn't include any details about what the hearing's agenda would be. But Hinton has emerged as a central figure in the scandal, which has damaged Murdoch's international media empire and convulsed the world of British journalism.

Hinton was executive chairman of News International, the U.K. newspaper division of News Corp., while illegal behavior was allegedly rife at the News of the World, the division's flagship Sunday tabloid.

Hinton testified in 2007 and 2009 that he had not seen any evidence the hacking had spread beyond one reporter, but documentary evidence and testimony from other former executives have since cast doubt on his claims.

Hinton worked with Murdoch for more than half a century before he resigned in the wake of the scandal. His closeness to his former boss — Murdoch said in July that he would trust Hinton "with my life" — means that his appearance will receive particularly close scrutiny.

Separately, London's new police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe told lawmakers that his officers were assisting 30 British investigations into the tabloid phone hacking scandal.

Alongside three criminal inquiries led by London police — also known as the Met — Britain has a host of other ongoing reviews, including a judge-led study of media ethics, a probe by the police complaints watchdog, a review of ties between police and the press and various examinations by Parliamentary committees.

"I can entirely understand why that is necessary, but what it does mean — in terms of the Met — is that all those different groups expect us to provide information," Hogan-Howe said.

Hogan-Howe, appointed after his predecessor and another top officer stepped down amid the scandal, said he hoped to restore standards in the police department.

"There will be things to resolve, but we will work our through it ... and build the trust of the people of London," he told the Home Affairs Select Committee.

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David Stringer contributed to this report.