James Murdoch Testified in Leveson Inquiry in U.K.

VIDEO: James Murdoch insists he didn't know extent of phone hacking at News of the World.
ABCNEWS.com

Rupert Murdoch and his son James are appearing before a British inquiry about press standards less than a year after being questioned at a parliamentary special committee over evidence of phone hacking at the defunct tabloid News of the World.

During his testimony on Tuesday in London, James Murdoch explained his interactions with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Culture Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt, who has been under pressure to explain his relationship with News Corp., as the media company tried to purchase British broadcasting company BSkyB.

Murdoch said he told Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, on Sept. 10, 2009 that The Sun newspaper, owned by News Corp., would endorse his party's election ambitions. James Murdoch denied the accusation that the endorsement helped get approval by Cameron's party for the BSkyB bid.

"I would never have made that kind of a crass calculation," Murdoch said. "It just wouldn't occur to me."

For the first time James Murdoch admitted speaking with Cameron during controversial efforts to buy control of BSkyB. He said he spoke with Cameron at a Christmas dinner in 2010 at the home of former editor of News of the World Rebekah Brooks, after the Tory leader had been elected prime minister. But James Murdoch said it was "a tiny side conversation ahead of a dinner."

"It wasn't really a discussion, if you will," Murdoch said.

Commission Chair Lord Justice Brian Leveson and the commission counsel questioned whether the Murdochs have been too close to Cameron.

The widening hacking scandal rocked the media and police in a country where Murdoch owns many of the largest newspapers. Rupert Murdoch is scheduled to appear Wednesday and Thursday morning if necessary, the Guardian reported.

According to Hugh Tomlinson of the Queen's Council, the now defunct News of the World allegedly hacked the phones of 4,791 people, from stars to crime victims, to get juicy stories -- all with the encouragement of top editors at the paper and aided by some in the police force.

News Corp. has also been criticized over allegations of impropriety at its other newspapers.

In February 2012, five employees of British newspaper, The Sun, were arrested for allegededly making payments to public officials. Four former and current Sun journalists were held in January, the BBC reported.

The Leveson inquiry has heard from more than 100 witnesses since evidence hearings began in November, the Guardian reported.

Rupert Murdoch made a rare apology in British newspapers last year before echoing the sentiment at a parliamentary hearing. The Murdochs appeared before a parliamentary committee last year for the first time, during which the elder Murdoch was attacked with a shaving cream pie.

The elder Murdoch is a man "who meets power with power" and is not going to leave News Corp. willingly, biographer Michael Wolff told Bloomberg News. Wolff's book, "The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch," was published in 2008.

The Murdoch name has been synonymous with News Corp. even before it was incorporated in 1979. Rupert Murdoch, the only son of Sir Keith Murdoch, took over his father's newspaper publishing business, News Limited, after the elder Murdoch passed away in 1952. The Murdoch family and embattled News Corp. own FOX News Channel, The Wall Street Journal, and publisher Harper Collins, among other assets.

ABC News' Jeffrey Kofman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

PHOTO: News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch is seen delivering a keynote address at the National Summit on Education Reform October 14, 2011 in San Francisco, Calif.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corp., published a full-page apology in British newspapers last year about alleged phone-hacking by journalists at his tabloid, the News of the World.

"We are sorry. The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account. It failed when it came to itself," Murdoch wrote in the ad.

The 81-year-old Murdoch has six children, three of whom are directly involved in his media empire. Murdoch married Wendi Deng, 43, his third wife, in 1999. They have two young daughters, Grace and Chloe.

The Oxford-educated media mogul took over his father's newspaper business, News Limited, in his native Australia when he was 22, according to the BBC. Reportedly in good health since being diagnosed with "low grade" prostate cancer in 2000, he has reportedly insisted that his eventual successor have the Murdoch name.

In an interview last year with the Wall Street Journal, Murdoch said News Corp. has handled the crisis "extremely well in every way possible," making just "minor mistakes."

"I was appalled to find out what had happened and I apologized and I have nothing further to say," said Murdoch, who last year apologized to the family of Milly Dowler, a murdered teen whose phone was hacked by News of the World in 2002.

PHOTO: James Murdoch, shown in this July 13, 2011 file photo, has stepped down from his position as executive chairman of News International.
Warren Allott/AFP/Getty Images
James Murdoch

James Murdoch, 39, stepped down in March 2012 as deputy chief operating officer of News Corp. and as BSkyB chairman on April 3. The former chairman and CEO of News International was drawn into the phone-hacking scandal that destroyed News of the World, Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid. The debacle led News Corp. to withdraw its takeover bid for pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB on July 13.

James did not directly oversee the News of the World, but he approved payments to some of the paper's most prominent hacking victims, including 700,000 pounds ($1.1 million) to Professional Footballers' Association chief Gordon Taylor, according to The Associated Press.

James was criticized for responding too slowly to initial allegations that the tabloid was engaging in illegal phone-hacking. News International apologized in rival national newspapers over the weekend for its wrongdoings. Considered the heir apparent to his father Rupert Murdoch's media empire, James may be forced to resign or, worse, could face arrest as the News Corp phone hacking scandal continues to unravel.

"James is like his father, News Corp. people believe. Or at least he tries to be," Michael Wolff wrote. "But it may not be so much his father that he's emulating as some generic idea of the advanced business figure."

James Murdoch and News of the World initially told Parliament that phone hacking took place in isolated incidents at the paper, which has been proven false.

"We now have voluntarily given evidence to the police that I believe will prove that this was untrue and those who acted wrongly will have to face the consequences," James said in a statement. "This was not the only fault. The paper made statements to Parliament without being in the full possession of the facts. This was wrong."

Rupert Murdoch has defended his son, saying that James' position with News Corp. is unchanged. As a protective father, Murdoch said James did not respond too slowly to the phone hacking scandal.

"I think he acted as fast as he could, the moment he could," Rupert Murdoch told the Wall Street Journal.

Rebekah Brooks

Rebekah Brooks, once editor of News of the World, was the 10th person arrested in connection with the phone hacking scandal. She was chief executive of News International before resigning in July 2011. Brooks was arrested most recently in March on suspicion of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, the BBC reported, after being arrested in July 2011 on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications. She was freed on bail after both arrests.

Brooks, whom Murdoch reportedly considered "his other daughter," edited the News of World from 2000 to 2003, when much of the alleged criminal activity took place. She has insisted that she knew nothing about it -- even though it is now alleged the paper's reporters illegally hacked 4,000 people's cell phones in search of scoops.

Those who worked with her said Brooks would do anything for a story and to further her own career. Her former boss, Piers Morgan, said in his memoir, "The Insider," that Brooks once dressed as a cleaning lady for the Sunday Times and hid in the paper's bathroom to get a freshly-printed issue of the competitor's paper. She then used the Times' material about a Prince Charles biography for the News of the World, Morgan wrote.

Sir Paul Stephenson: Former Head of Scotland Yard

Sir Paul Stephenson, Metropolitan Police commissioner and head of Scotland Yard, resigned in July 2011. During a Leveson inquiry in March 2012, Stephenson said he met former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis eight times between 2006 and 2010.

Stephenson insisted he had no involvement in the police's failure to investigate alleged widespread criminal acts by Murdoch's journalists, nor the alleged bribery of police by reporters.

"I had no knowledge of the extent of this disgraceful practice or indeed the extent of it and the repugnant nature of the selection of victims that is now emerging," Stephenson said in his resignation statement.

Stephenson had run the police force since 2009, rising up through the ranks. It is alleged that police aided the phone hackers in various ways and may have covered up attempts to investigate it.

John Yates: Resigned Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner

John Yates, who led the police counter-terrorism department, was the second top police official of Scotland Yard to resign. Yates reportedly reviewed phone-hacking evidence in 2009 and concluded there was no need for a deeper investigation. News of the World's former crime editor, Lucy Panton, told the Leveson inquiry on April 2, 2012, that she met regularly with Yates and he attended her wedding, The Telegraph reported.

Panton said Yates attended the wedding of crime reporter Jeff Edwards, who worked for the Daily Mirror from 1992 until he retired in 2008.

Andy Coulson: Prime Minister's Former Communications Director and Ex-Editor

Andy Coulson, editor of News of the World from 2003 to 2007, then communications director for British Prime Minister David Cameron until January 2011, was arrested by Scotland Yard in July 2011 for his alleged connection to the phone hacking scandal and corruption charges.

In December 2011, Coulson lost a suit, filed in September, to force News International to continue paying his legal fees over the hacking scandal, the Guardian reported.

Sean Hoare, former News of the World reporter who was the first named journalist to allege Coulson was aware of the phone hacking scandal, was found dead on July 18, 2011

The BBC reported in November that Hoare had died of natural causes after suffering from alcoholic liver disease.

Les Hinton, Former Wall Street Journal Publisher, Long-time Lieutenant

Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton, executive chairman of News International while its tabloid The News of the World engaged in alleged phone hacking, resigned on July 15, 2011.

For more than 12 years, Hinton led News International, Rupert Murdoch's newspaper publisher in London that owned The News of the World.

In Hinton's resignation letter, obtained by the website All Things D, Hinton maintained he was unaware of the inappropriate action that occurred while he was chairman of News International.

"I have watched with sorrow from New York as the News of the World story has unfolded," Hinton wrote. "I have seen hundreds of news reports of both actual and alleged misconduct during the time I was executive chairman of News International and responsible for the company."

He became CEO of Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal in December 2007. Hinton previously told Parliament that he had no knowledge of the phone hacking.

"The pain caused to innocent people is unimaginable," he wrote in his statement. "That I was ignorant of what apparently happened is irrelevant and in the circumstances I feel it is proper for me to resign from News Corp., and apologize to those hurt by the actions of the News of the World."

In a statement about Hinton's resignation, Rupert Murdoch wrote that he and Hinton had been on a "remarkable journey together for more than 52 years."

At the start of both their careers, Murdoch reportedly first hired Hinton to be a copy boy for an Australian newspaper when he was 15 and rose among the ranks.

"That this passage has come to an unexpected end, professionally, not personally, is a matter of much sadness to me," Murdoch wrote.

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