Barely three days after being questioned by MPs about his role in the News of the World phone hacking scandal, newspaper reports on Sunday claimed that James Murdoch, the embattled boss of News International — the British arm of his father Rupert Murdoch's global media empire — was likely to be questioned by Scotland Yard following the discovery of a new cache of what were described as “bombshell'' emails.
The emails, said to be among the “tens of thousands'' held at a data storage facility in India, reportedly take the investigation to a “new level'' suggesting that Mr. Murdoch may have known more about the extent of hacking than he has publicly admitted.
The new development in one of the most sordid British media scandals of recent times came ahead of a judicial public inquiry into the scandal beginning on Monday. Led by Lord Justice Brian Henry Leveson, it will look into media ethics and regulation.
The Mail on Sunday claimed that discussions had taken place between the police and the Crown Prosecution Service about “whether Mr. Murdoch should be arrested and interviewed under caution''.
Rebekah Brooks, former editor of the now defunct NoW who was arrested in the summer and is currently on bail, could also be questioned again, said the paper.
“Last night it was unclear whether the emails suggest Mr Murdoch and Mrs Brooks were involved in a cover-up of phone-hacking or prove they had knowledge of malpractice at the News of the World, which was closed in July,'' it added. A News International spokesperson would only say that the company was “co-operating fully with the police inquiry”.
On Thursday, Mr. Murdoch appeared before a high-level parliamentary committee for the second time in less than four months to answer questions about his knowledge of the scale of hacking at NoW. He was recalled following claims that he misled it when he gave evidence in July claiming. But he stood by his previous testimony denying any cover-up.
Scotland Yard officers investigating the affair “took a detailed note of his comments'' (to the committee) and his “testimony will be compared to the emerging email evidence in India, before he is interviewed by police'', said media reports.
Police said they were ploughing through some 300 million emails supplied by News International. Nearly 6000 people, including high-profile politicians and celebrities, may have had their phones hacked.