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New details arise in News Corp. phone-hacking scandal

Former exec says Murdoch was wrong to blame outside counsel for improper investigation

Just when News Corp. may have thought the spotlight had dimmed somewhat on its well-publicized phone-hacking scandal, new testimony and media scrutiny have managed to pull them back in.

News broke today that a pair of former News of the World executives told a parliamentary hearing in London that they notified Deputy Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch in early 2008 that evidence pointed to the tabloid’s phone hacking not being limited to a solitary reporter, which is contrary to what the company has long held.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that News of the World’s former editor and top attorney both appeared before the U.K. parliamentary select committee investigating the voicemail interceptions. But while the men believe that James Murdoch understood the significance of the evidence they set before him, the committee struggled to clearly learn how the pair detailed that implication of greater misconduct, the Journal says.

The men have provided the committee with written testimony that contradicts statements from James Murdoch and other leading company officials in regard to how far the phone hacking spread, and how thoroughly it was researched.

Jonathan Chapman, News Corp.’s former head of legal affairs, added in his testimony that News Corp. Chief Rupert Murdoch was wrong to blame the company’s outside counsel, Harbottle & Lewis, for its failure to properly investigate the matter, but added that Murdoch may not have been properly briefed on the matter.

News Corp. has maintained that the phone hacking was limited to just one reporter based largely on Harbottle’s review of emails brought about by an unfair dismissal claim.

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