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Murdochs to appear at UK media ethics inquiry

Thursday, April 19, 2012 | 12:55 p.m. CDT

LONDON — Britain's media ethics inquiry said Thursday it will hear testimony from News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son James next week, as officers arrested three people in the investigation of corrupt ties between the British police and the press.

The Murdochs have been at the hub of the long-running phone hacking scandal, which has badly tarnished the reputation of the British press.

The Leveson Inquiry said Thursday that Rupert Murdoch will appear on Wednesday and possibly Thursday. His son, James — who resigned as executive chairman of News Corp.'s U.K. newspaper subsidiary in February — will appear on Tuesday, the inquiry said on its website.

Rupert Murdoch shut down the 168-year-old News of the World tabloid in July amid public furor in Britain following revelations journalists routinely hacked into voicemails, including the messages of a murdered schoolgirl.

Since then, his media empire — which also includes Sky News and the Sun newspaper — has been battered by further allegations of journalist misconduct. Fresh police investigations into police bribery, voicemail and hacking have seen the stain stretch beyond the News of the World to Murdoch's popular Sun tabloid, while both Sky News and the Times of London have admitted that their journalists hacked emails.

While Rupert has remained largely insulated from the crisis, several of his lieutenants have resigned and the scandal has tarnished James Murdoch's credibility over what went on while he was in charge of the company's British newspapers.

He and his father faced a grilling before U.K. lawmakers into practices at their media holdings, and the younger Murdoch has twice had to backtrack on his testimony.

As the scandal wore on, James Murdoch resigned first from News International, then as chairman of British Sky Broadcasting to distance himself from the crisis.

At least 25 past and present employees of News International have been arrested in the police investigations of phone hacking, bribery and computer hacking.

On Thursday, another journalist from The Sun tabloid was one of three people arrested as part of an investigation into corrupt links between the British police and the press, officials said.

Police said the arrests early Thursday were the result of information passed on from a management and standards committee at Murdoch's News Corp., which has vowed to get to the bottom of criminality within News International.

News International confirmed that one suspect arrested in the dawn raids Thursday worked at the Sun newspaper but would not name the journalist. A person briefed on the investigation identified him as Duncan Larcombe, The Sun's 36-year-old royal editor. He spoke anonymously because he wasn't authorized to give details of an ongoing police inquiry.

Police did not name the suspects but said a 36-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of corruption and conspiracy.

Larcombe has testified at the Leveson inquiry that he had never paid a police officer for a story or hacked computers while at the Sun.

Police said the two others arrested Thursday were a 42-year-old ex-serviceman and a 38-year-old woman.

Britain's chief prosecutor said Wednesday that criminal charges are being considered against 11 people in four cases related to hacking investigations.


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