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Updated: July 14, 2011 14:23 IST

Murdoch must answer questions: Nick Clegg

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Nick Clegg:
Nick Clegg: "Murdoch had big questions to answer on the phone hacking scandal". File photo

Rupert Murdoch should appear before a parliamentary committee to answer questions about the phone hacking scandal at one of his newspapers, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Thursday.

Mr. Murdoch had big questions to answer after the scandal forced Murdoch’s News Corp. to abandon a bid to take full control of British Sky Broadcasting, Mr. Clegg said.

The House of Commons committee on Culture, Media and Sport has asked Murdoch to appear next week with his son James and Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International, the News Corp. unit which controls the British newspapers.

“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,” Mr. Clegg said in an interview with BBC radio.

He added, however, that it was unclear whether the committee could compel attendance by Mr. Rupert Murdoch, who is a U.S. citizen.

Mr. Murdoch’s hope of making BSkyB a wholly owned part of his News Corp. empire collapsed on Wednesday in the face of what Prime Minister David Cameron called a “firestorm” that has engulfed media, police and politicians.

News Corp. has already shut down News of the World, the scandal—loving Sunday tabloid which is the focus of police investigations of phone hacking and bribery of police officers. The closure was a doomed effort to keep the BSkyB bid alive.

Mr. Cameron has appointed a judge for a wide—ranging inquiry into the News of the World scandal and wider issues of media regulation, the relationship between politicians and media and the possibility that illegal practices are more widely employed in the industry.

“It clearly goes beyond News International,” Mr. Clegg said.

“It is clearly something much more systemic,” Mr. Clegg said. “I don’t think we should allow ourselves to believe that it is just because of the Murdochs, or Rebekah Brooks, or it’s all about one commercial transaction, however significant.”

Shares in BSkyB steadied Thursday, rising 0.6 percent to 709.5 pence ($11.43) in early trading in London. The shares closed higher on Wednesday for the first time since they began falling sharply last week amid fresh phone hacking allegations.

The News Corp. bid for BSkyB unraveled with stunning speed after The Guardian reported that the News of the World had hacked into the phone of teenage murder victim Milly Dowler in 2002 and may have impeded a police investigation into the 13-year-old’s disappearance.

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