Tom Watson is turning up the heat on James Murdoch, News Corp.'s deputy chief operating officer. In light of an accusation from former News Corp. employees that Murdoch lied to Parliament, the Labour MP told The Telegraph Friday morning that the London Metropolitan Police should review the evidence and consider the details Murdoch's allegedly misleading statements "as a matter of urgency." Prime Minister David Cameron took a similar stance and said, "Clearly James Murdoch has got questions to answer in Parliament and I am sure that he will do that. And clearly News International has got some big issues to deal with and a mess to clear up."
Murdoch told Watson at Tuesday's hearing that he had no knowledge of an email proving News of the World had hacked the phone of Gordon Taylor, who later won a $1.1 million settlement from News Corp. The paper's former editor and News Corp.'s lawyer said he did know about that email. Watson explained to the BBC why it's the most important piece of evidence so far:
It shows that he not only failed to report a crime to the police, but because there was a confidentiality clause involved in the settlement, it means that he bought the silence of Gordon Taylor and that could mean that he is facing investigation for perverting the course of justice. …
Taylor was the victim of a crime. Far from reporting the crime to the police or putting the matter right within his own company, what [former News of the World editor Colin] Myler's statement shows -- if it is true -- [is] that James Murdoch knowingly bought the silence of Taylor, thereby covering up a crime. In the UK, that is called conspiring to pervert the course of justice and it is very serious matter, and I think the Metropolitan police now have to look at this as a matter of urgency.
MP John Whittingdale, the chair of the committee that interrogated Murdoch, said he'll send a series of questions to Murdoch next week and ask for clarification on his knowledge of the incriminating email. Murdoch denied the allegations that he'd lied to Parliament in a nine-word statement Thursday evening. If police discover that he did lie to Parliament, Murdoch could face a hefty fine or jail time.
Tom Watson is also pushing the broader investigation forward. As the FBI is reportedly preparing subpoenas for News Corp. executives as part of an investigation in the United States, Watson says that he'll continue to "force the truth" out of News Corp. executives and email hacking could be the next scandal. Investigators, Watson says, may have used a sophisticated piece of hacking software known as a Trojan horse to read victims' emails.
"There are other private investigators who have different skills," said Watson. "And when they come under scrutiny it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if it is discovered that there are people who know about how to plant Trojans on hard drives on computers to obtain email information, which in many senses is a far more serious crime.”