Hacking police find 'bombshell' emails: Now detectives may want to question James Murdoch
Last updated at 2:10 AM on 12th November 2011
Grilling: Mr Murdoch was questioned for two and a half hours by a Commons select committee on Thursday
Police investigating phone-hacking at the News of the World have recovered a series of ‘bombshell’ emails which they believe takes the inquiry to ‘a new level’.
The emails were among tens of thousands held by the newspaper at a data storage facility in India.
Police are believed to want to question News International chief James Murdoch and former Sun and News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks about their contents.
Discussions have taken place with the Crown Prosecution Service about whether Mr Murdoch should be arrested and interviewed under caution.
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.
Both Mrs Brooks, who has already been arrested in connection with the inquiry and is on police bail, and Mr Murdoch deny any wrongdoing.
The latest twist in the case emerged 24 hours after Mr Murdoch – the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch – was grilled for two and a half hours on Thursday by a House of Commons select committee.
In a bruising second appearance before the Culture Committee, he insisted he had not learned until recently that the practice of illegally eavesdropping on private phone messages went beyond a single ‘rogue reporter’.
Detectives on Operation Weeting, the Scotland Yard squad investigating phone-hacking, took a detailed note of his comments.
His testimony will be compared to the emerging email evidence in India, before he is interviewed by police.
Last night speculation was growing that the new development could be linked to the large-scale deletion of News of the World emails.
In January 2007, the News of the World’s then royal editor, Clive Goodman (left), and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for illegally intercepting voicemails
Three months ago, the technology firm HCL told the Home Affairs Committee it was aware of the deletion of hundreds of thousands of emails at the request of News International between April 2010 and July 2011, but said it did not know of anything untoward behind the requests to delete them.
HCL said it was not the company responsible for emails on the News International computer system that are older than a couple of weeks. It said another unnamed organisation was responsible, but confirmed it had co-operated with it in deleting material.
It stressed that since it was not the company that stored News International’s data ‘any allegation that it has deleted material held on behalf of News International is without foundation’.
In January 2007, the News of the World’s then royal editor, Clive Goodman, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for illegally intercepting voicemails, but News International maintained until earlier this year that they were acting alone.
While testifying on Thursday, Mr Murdoch was accused by Labour MP Tom Watson of acting like a ‘mafia boss’ whose company operated ‘omerta’ – a code of silence to cover up criminal behaviour.
After Mr Murdoch repeatedly denied being aware of wrongdoing within the company he has led since 2007, Mr Watson told him: ‘You must be the first mafia boss in history who didn’t know he was running a criminal enterprise.’
Mr Murdoch confirmed he had not been detained for questioning by police, but informed sources say that will change in the coming weeks. One source told the Mail: ‘It is possible the most shocking revelations in the phone-hacking scandal are yet to come.’
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