Murdochs summoned to appear at phone-hack committee

News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks will appear before MPs next week – and Rupert and James Murdoch have been summoned to appear after saying that they were both unable to attend.

A statement released by MPs this morning said: “The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee has this morning received letters from Rupert Murdoch, chair and CEO of News Corporation, James Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation (international), and Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, in response to its invitation to appear before the committee.

“Rebekah Brooks has accepted the invitation to appear before the committee next week. Rupert Murdoch has indicated he is unable to attend to give evidence, and James Murdoch has indicated he is unable to attend on the specified date but offered to appear at an alternative date, the earliest of which was 10 August 10th.

“The committee has made clear its view that all three should appear to account for the behaviour of News International and for previous statements made to the committee in Parliament, now acknowledged to be false.

“Accordingly, the committee has this morning decided to summon Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch to appear before the Select Committee in Parliament at 2.30pm on Tuesday 19 July 2011.”

In her letter to the committee Brooks said: ‘As you will be aware, the Metropolitan Police investigation into illegal voicemail interception continues and we are fully cooperating with that.

‘Aspects of the work to which your committee may wish to refer are likely to be relevant to that investigation. Indeed, the police have already asked us specifically to provide information about those matters.

“I understand that various select committees have approached the police over time in relation to this and other cases.

“The police’s position has been to cooperate where this did not directly impact on the investigation on the question.

‘In those cases where it did potentially impact, the police have historically declined to comment at this stage. Our understanding is that this approach has not been challenged.

“Given that we are in the midst of an investigation, and we do not want to prejudice it, I hope you will understand why we felt it would not be appropriate to respond to such questions at present in order to be consistent with he police’s approach, and that as a result this may prevent me from discussing the matters in detail.”

Rupert Murdoch’s letter said: ‘Unfortunately I am not available to attend the session you have planned next Tuesday.

‘However, I am fully prepared to give evidence to the forthcoming judge-led public inquiry and I will be taking steps to notify those conducting the inquiry of my willingness to do so. Having done this, I would be happy to discuss with you how best to give evidence to your committee.’

James Murdoch said: ‘Unfortunately I am not available to attend the session you have planned next Tuesday.

‘However, I would be please to give evidence to your committee on either the 10 or 11 August. Naturally, if either of these proves suitable I would be willing to consider any alternative dates you suggest.”

UPDATE 14/07/11 17.03:

The Murdochs have agreed to attend next week’s select committee hearing. A News Corporation spokesperson said: “We are in the process of writing to the select committee with the intention that Mr James Murdoch and Mr Rupert Murdoch will attend next Tuesday’s meeting.”

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