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Police: Hacking scandal whistleblower reporter found dead

July 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
British lawmakers are hoping to get some answers on Tuesday when Rupert Murdoch, his son James Murdoch and a former News of the World editor appear before a committee in the British House of Commons. It will be the first time they will have spoken about the telephone hacking scandal since it broke two weeks ago.

A day after Britain's top cop, Sir Paul Stephenson, resigned in the Murdoch newspaper scandal, a top deputy followed his former boss out the door.

Like Stephenson, Assistant Commissioner John Yates was under fire for failing to pursue evidence of widespread telephone hacking by the News of the World. Both men deny wrongdoing.

News of the World is accused of hacking into the phones of thousands of people including celebrities, politicians and murder victims.

Yates was the one who decided two years ago not to reopen police inquiries into the scandal. He had said he did not believe there was any new evidence to consider.

Rebekah Brooks, the former News of the World editor, was arrested on Sunday, and now, all eyes are on James Murdoch. He has admitted to paying million dollars to a soccer star whose phone was illegally hacked.

The scandal could have repercussions in the United States, home to more than half of the $33 billion Murdoch media empire that includes Fox TV and Fox News.

In a further twist to this story, a former News of the World reporter who helped blow the whistle on the scandal was found dead on Monday in his home. Authorities do not believe it is suspicious.

Hoare was quoted by The New York Times as saying that phone-hacking was widely used and even encouraged at the News of the World tabloid under then-editor Andy Coulson.

Coulson - who most recently served as Prime Minister David Cameron's communications chief, was arrested as part of the widening investigation into phone hacking and police corruption.

Cameron had 26 meetings with Murdoch executives, more than twice the number of meetings he has had with any other media organization.

"The view of every prime minister for the last 30 years is that no one can get elected without the blessing of the patriarch," said Claire Enders, a media analyst.

Meanwhile, the website of Rupert Murdoch's Sun newspaper has apparently been hacked. Visitors to the site were redirected to a page featuring a story saying Murdoch's dead body had been found in his garden. A group of hackers later took responsibility via Twitter.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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