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Posted at 08:30 AM ET, 07/19/2011

Rupert and James Murdoch questioned at Parliament: live blogging (Video)


The committee hearing was interrupted by a man attempting to throw foam in Rupert Murdoch’s face. His wife Wendi Deng, pictured in pink, defended him. Questioning resumed. (AP)
(Follow the live blog below.)

In a scandal that has unfurled over years in drips and over the past few weeks in a flood, the illicit newsgathering at the shuttered News of the World tabloid has brought down top politicians, leaders in journalism and threatens the prime minister.

After weeks of attempts to downplay the scandal, Rupert Murdoch will face a parliamentary committee at 9:30 a.m. EST. It will be a rare public grilling for the media tycoon. He and his son James Murdoch, along with the former News International executive Rebekah Brooks, will be quizzed about a possible cover-up that reached the top levels of the media corporation.

Follow the Post’s media reporter Paul Farhi live blogging the event here:

2:05 p.m. Signing off

Folks, I've got to leave this live blog now, in order to get back to working on a story for tomorrow's paper (yes, I'm “multi-platform” today). Thanks for tuning in today. Please check washingtonpost.com and our print edition for a full account of today's events. Cheers... Paul.

2:02 p.m. Brooks says “there have been mistakes”

Brooks said of her mistakes: “I dont think there's an editor on Fleet Street who doesn't regret some of the headlines they've published. In my case, there have been mistakes.”

“On the other hand, despite being in the spotlight recently... I would defend the right of the free press for my entire career... It hasn't been very pleasant. The reason I left [the company] was because I felt I was detracting from the amazing journalism that was going on.”

1:59 p.m. MP asks Brooks if people should go to jail

Therese Coffey, MP, asks Brooks: “Knowing what you know now,” should people go to jail?

Brooks says: “none of us here should be judge and jury.”

1:57 p.m. Brook calls Dowler hacking ‘abhorrent’

Brooks says again that Milly Dowler hacking was “abhorrent” to her.

When the Dowler stories were breaking in 2002 in the News of the World, Brooks says, “I am sure questions were asked [within the paper about] where that information came from...There would have been some sort of process around where that information came from [sic]. I can tell you now it would not be the case that someone would have said, ‘Oh, that came from an illegal voicemail interception.’”

1:52 p.m. Parliament panel doesn’t seem to believe Brooks

The Parliament panel doesn't seem to be shaking Rebekah Brooks' basic story: She didn't know what was going on.

It’s the same story that the Murdochs told the panel a few hours ago.

1:49 p.m. MP wants to know about the Harbottle File

Paul Farrelly, MP, wants to know about the Harbottle File, the cache of incriminating emails that was housed at a law firm News Corp. had hired to investigate the extent of hacking.

Brook: We set up a committee to facilitate the police... The police asked about [the Harbottle File] and we asked about it and found it and handed it over to police on June 20th of 2010.

Farrelly: When this information came to light, what conversations did you have?

Brooks: We asked questions [of the lawyer heading the investigations] and he felt there had been an accurate review of the Harbottle File.

Brooks then added more about the file:

Brooks: In light of what we know now, when we saw that file, we felt that it put a new light on that information and we handed it over to police.

1:42 p.m. MP wants to know how NOTW got phone numbers of suspected pedophiles

Paul Farrelly, MP, wants to know how News of the World got phone numbers of suspected pedophiles for a series of articles that led to some of the alleged pedophiles being physically attacked, with several cases of mistaken identity.

Brooks: This occured before Parliament changed laws in 2003 regarding the use of private detectives and access to private records.

Farrelly: We're being asked to believe that you as a hands-on editor, and Andy Coulson [her successor] were unaware of the activities going on around you.

Brooks: I cant comment on what others knew and how they knew it. As chief executive I can acount for my actions in getting to the bottom of this story.

1:35 p.m. MP grills Brooks about Milly Dowler’s murder story

Damian Collins, MP, grills Brooks about how the Milly Dowler story came about. The News of the World broke stories on the case, some of which now appear to have been based on hacking of the murdered girl's phone while she was kidnapped and still missing.

Collins: Would it be normal to expect the editor, the lawyers of the paper, to review those stories?

Brooks: Yes, that is probably true. On such a story the lawyers would be involved.

Collins: How involved were you personally?

Brooks: I would have been involved in the story over the many years the story was running.

Collins: Would you say the Dowler story is one you would be more involved with?

Brooks: I would not be more or less involved... I suppose if I had a particular expertise it would been because I had been pushing a campaign for [anti-sex predators laws] in Parliament. (The News campaigned for a change in British laws and was successful.)

Collins: When you were first aware Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked?

Brooks: I heard about it when the story first broke in the media, on Monday evening (week before last)...We saw the story at the same time you saw the story. My first reaction was one of shock and disgust...The first thing I did was write to Mr. and Mrs. Dowler with an apology... The first time I heard that [Dowler's]phone was hacked was two weeks ago.

Observation: British MPs don't grandstand in their questioning. They also seem polite, to a fault.

Collins: Will you take responsibility?

Brooks: I would take responsibility, absolutely...but I really want to understand what happened.

1:23 p.m. Brooks explains paying of legal fees

Brooks is questioned about why News of the World paid Mulcaire's and Coulson's legal fees after they left the paper.

“Coulson and Clive Goodman had agreements with newspaper to pay their legal fees,” Brooks says.

Brooks says she wasn't aware of Mulcaire's contract.

1:20 p.m. Brooks is questioned about closing NOTW

When Brooks is questioned about closing NOTW, she says, “Once the trust [with readers] was broken [at News of the World] we felt closing it was the right decision.”

“As I've said, part of the problem with this story is the lack of visibility with documentations seized from Glenn Mulcaire's house in 2006. We have no visibility on it, you have no visibility on it...Once the police go through the documents,” we'll fully understand what happened, she said.

1:15 p.m. Brooks becomes tense

Brooks seems tense and a bit defensive, answering questions with a sharp “Look..” or “As I told you before...”

1:13 p.m. Brooks says she never paid a policeman

Brooks said, “I can say I have never paid a policeman myself (and) I have never authorized a payment to a policeman....In my experience of dealing with the police, the information they give newspapers comes free of charge.”

Brooks is then grilled about “Operation Motorman,” an investigation into the systemic use by the British newspaper industry of illegally acquired personal information. The investigation led to changes in privacy laws.

“Things went badly at the News of the World and we're trying to set it right,” Brooks said.

1:11 p.m. MP brings up Piers Morgan’s claims of extensive hacking

Louise Mensch, MP, questions the “culture” of Fleet Street, with its hacking, blagging and other dubious newsgathering techniques. She also asks about British television presenter Piers Morgan's claim that hacking was used extensively and bragged about it in his book. (Morgan was editor of three British tabloids, including News of the World, before becoming a CNN host).

1:07 p.m. Does Brooks have any regrets?

She’s asked if she has any regrets. Her reply: ''Of course I have regrets. The idea that Milly Dowler's phone was hacked...is abhorrent to me as it is to everyone in this room.''

12:58 p.m. Brooks on Mulcaire: I did not meet him

Questioned about her relationship to private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, Brooks said she had no contact with him. “"I first heard Glenn Mulcaire's name in 2006...There were other private investigators that I knew about [but not him].” She said she could not remember any names of other detectives that she worked with.

12:53 p.m. Private detectives common practice in British journalism

Brooks said that most British newspapers in 1990s and into the early 2000s used private investigators. “The News of the World used private detectives like most newspapers on Fleet Street.” She also said she cannot recall discussing payments to private detectives while at News of the World.

12:46 p.m Brooks continues with similar story to Murdochs’s

She reports that “we've attempted to settle as many” phone hacking cases as possible and that, like the Murdochs, the first time she was fully aware of the hacking when actress Sienna Miller began settlement talks in 2010.

This is irrelevant to the proceedings, but it must be remarked upon: Brooks has a remarkable head of hair. It's both mesmerizing and distracting.

12:43 p.m. Brooks begins

She starts by announcing she brought legal representation. Hearing room cleared again. For basic background: Brooks was editor of News of the World during its hacking heyday and later headed News Corp.'s British newspaper division. She has resigned over the scandal and was arrested on Friday for allegedly intercepting electronic communications.

12:39 p.m. Jonnie Marbles claims responsibility for the attack on Murdoch

A British comedian named Jonnie Marbles wrote on Twitter moments before the attack on Rupert, “It is a far better thing that I do now than I have eer done before. #splat.”

12:32 p.m. Murdochs dismissed.

Five minutes until Rebekah Brooks testifies. We’ll continue with her testimony shortly.

12:30 p.m. Rupert makes a final statement

“I have made my share of mistakes" in 57 years building News Corp. "but I have never felt more sick" than over the Milly Dowler incident. “I want [victims] to know the depths of my regret for the horrible invasion of privacy. The behavior went against everything I stand for, and my son, too.... Let me be clear in saying invading people's privacy...is wrong. Paying police officers is wrong...Saying sorry is not enough. Things must be put right. No excuses. [We] are cooperating fully with police...I wish we had managed to see and could have solved these problems much earlier...I am confident that when James joined News Corp, he thought the case was closed, too...Above all, i hope we will come to understand the wrongs of the past and prevent them from happening again...I am committed to doing everything in my power to make this happen."

12:28 p.m. Will Rupert resign?

Mensch says to Rupert, “You're in charge of the ship. And you've said you don’t regard yourself as a hands-on CEO. Given what has happened on your watch, have you considered resigning?”

Rupert says, “No.” She asks, “Why not?”

“People I trusted let me down, behaved dreadfully...and its for them to pay. It's for me to clean this up.”

12:24 p.m. Committee room cleared

The hearing room appears to have been cleared of spectators since the pie-throwing incident.

12:21 p.m. Continued pressing on illicit newsgathering

Mensch pushes questions on how news is gathered in England. She asks if they have instructed editors around the world to ensure that they are not using similar practices. Murdoch says they have not, but he is prepared to do so.

She then asks if editors at News of World used blagging — fake identities — to collect news?

James says, “I am aware of reports of other newspapers using private investigators but I can only speak to behavior and culture of the News of the World... It’s not for me to impinge other newspapers, other journalists, things like that.”

12:16 p.m. The questions turn to 9/11 victims

The transcript:

Mensch: Are you confident there was no hacking of 9/11 victims?

Rupert: We have no evidence of that at all.

James: I was going to say those are incredibly serious allegations. We don’t know the veracity of those allegations...It's just appalling to think anyone associated with one of our papers woudl do that. [But] I know of no evidence of that.

Mensch: Are there causes for concern?

James: We only seen the allegation that have been made in the press and we are actively trying...we are trying to learn what happened.

Both Rupert and James shake heads when asked again if they knew of any facts regarding such hacking.

12:13 p.m. James pauses over Milly Dowler’s name

Louise Mensch starts the questioning off by asking when did they become aware that crime victims were hacked. James said, “The terrible instance of voicemail interception of [he pauses to recall the name] Milly Dowler only came to my attention a few weeks ago. It was a total shock when I first became aware of it.”

12:09 p.m. Questioning has started again

The committee has been called back into session. The panel chairman says ''we will take action'' against pie thrower. Hearing continues. Rupert is back at the witness table, sans suit coat. Just a guess: He got slimed by that guy.

12:05 p.m. Wendi Deng protects her husband with volleyball swing

As if the attempted “pie-ing” was not enough excitement, Deng’s quick defense of her husband has captivated audiences. She’s reportedly a volleyball player and the television stations are replaying her spike in slow motion.

11:58 a.m. A man approaches Rupert, wife swings in defense

In replay, a man seems to approach Rupert. Deng jumps up to protect her husband swinging at the man. It looks like the man had shaving cream in a pie tin. The police are talking to him and he now appears covered in cream off camera. The man reportedly shouted, “You are a greedy billionaire!” as he swung the foam at Rupert.

11:54 a.m. A disturbance in the room interrupts proceeding

A lot of shouting starts in the room and the camera has swung away. There was some noise, and policemen ran onto the scene. Wendi Deng Murdoch leapt from her seat. Replay shows James Murdoch getting from his seat, Rupert remains seated. The chairman called a 10-minute recess.

11:51 a.m. Rupert breaks down

Rupert is asked if his staff withheld information from him because he may not want to hear it, he says, “We're a very big company. I'm sure there are people who try to please me. That's human nature. It's up to me to see through that.”

As the questioning continues Murdoch tears up, “I just want to say I was brought up by a father [Sir Keith Rupert Murdoch] who was not rich but was a great journalist. And just before he died, he bought a small paper, and said it was a chance to do good. He was hated in this country [for exposing the British military disaster at Gallipoli during World War I], but I hope my sons and daughters [will live up to his legacy.]”

11:50 a.m. Will the Murdoch empire fall?

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, On Faith blogger and one of America’s “most influential rabbis,” will be online to take questions about the Rupert Murdoch scandal at 12:30 p.m. EST. You can ask a question now.

11:42 a.m. Rupert supports son’s past work

Rupert is asked if he regret placing James in charge of British Sky Broadcasting in 2003 amid charges of nepotism. James was 30 years old at the time, the youngest CEO of a major British company.

Rupert says, “The press had a field day with it...but after he left that company there was agreement that he had done a good job.”

11:38 a.m. Murdochs say they were distracted by other businesses

The father-son duo say they were busy with competitors at the same time the hacking details began to emerge. "We had a particularly tricky competitor” in Italy, Rupert says. He's referring to fellow mogul, and Italian premier, Silvio Berlusconi.

11:35 a.m. Two hours into hearing

Early impression still holds: James has the details, Rupert seems vague on the facts.

11:29 a.m. Brooks and Hinton’s knowledge of Harbottle File questioned.

James said that he cannot speak for Brooks or Hinton, after he is questioned about when they were made aware of the documents in the Harbottle file. Farrelly asks: “You cant say who kept you in the dark? I have to say that's unsatisfactory.”

James replies, “The law firm's opinion was clear. I can’t speak to individual's knowledge at a given time. We rested on opinion of law firm and the police that there was nothing more.Evidence emerged later in civil litigation.”

Farrelly says, “We don’t know who at News of World was complicit, we're nowhere near who knew what evidence led your closest aide, Les Hinton, to testify (otherwise). Do you find that satisfactory?

Rupert replies, “No, I do not...The legal advice was to go to police with it.” James interrupts his father. “The opinion was clear after the review was done.”

Rupert says, “Mr [Colin] Myler [former managing editor of the News]was appointed by Mr. Hinton to find out what the hell was going on and he commissioned the Harbottle inquiry. That was my understanding but I can’t swear to it.”

11:27 a.m. News Corps releases opening statements

The committee denied James’s request to make an opening statement, but News Corp. has released the full text of it here.

11:23 a.m. Should they withdraw letter to Parliament claiming hacking fully investigated by company?

Farrelly says, "I take it you'd like to withdraw a letter" to Parliament committee saying the company had investigated the hacking fully. This letter was submitted before revelations of much wider hacking emerged last year. James doesn't answer the question directly. He says, "That's a relevant document."

James continues to push back on some of the questions saying that they are matters for the police and “it's important I don’t stray into matters that are under investigation.”

11:19 a.m. One hour question session sneaking into third hour soon

The hearing has now far exceeded its scheduled one-hour length. It appears there are many more questions to come.

11:18 a.m. Emails implicate Andy Coulson, committee member says

Farrelly asserts the email implicate Andy Coulson, former editor of the News of the World, of payments to police. He wonders why, given those emails, the law firm gave the company a "clean bill of health."

James says, “We rested on opinion of counsel that it was a settled matter and until that new information emerged [in the Harbottle File] we felt we had to go to police.”

11:08 a.m. Questions now turn to the “Harbottle File”

The committee is now asking about the so-called "Harbottle File," named for the London law firm that did an internal investigation of News Corp. News reports have said the company covered up some of its findings.

“In 2010, after the civil litigation put a spotlight on company, additional new evidence [came to light]...Some of it was in that file. It was April, May, June of 2010...The people managing the work were led by Mr. Lewis [of the law firm],” James says. When asked what was in the file, he said, “There's an ongoing criminal investigation and it would be wrong of me to talk about evidence that could [hamper the police investigation].”

When pushed, James won't say what was in the file other than "paper," but adds: “My reaction was to agree to recommendation of executives that this was something we should bring to the attention of police.”

He gave the police the file last June, about a month or two after he became aware of them.

11:07 a.m. Mulcaire’s legal fees may still be paid by News Corp.

Paul Farrelly, a Labour MP, asks if they have been paying legal fees to Glenn Mulcaire during the course of civil actions. James responds in the past, saying that he was surprised when he found out about the allegations that they paid his legal fees, saying “At the time, the legal advice was it was customary to pay legal fees.” When Farrelly continues to ask if they are still paying the fees, James says “I’m trying to find that out now.

Farrelly asks, “If you are still paying Mulcaire's fees, will you give instructions for the payments to stop?” Rupert says, “Provided it's not a breach of a contract, yes.”

Mulcaire, to refresh memories, is the private investigator convicted of hacking into the voicemail messages of the Royal family.

10:59 a.m. Les Hinton may have approved payments

Les Hinton, the former head of News International prior to James stepping into the role, may have made the payments to Mulcaire and Goodman, Rupert says, on the instructions of the chief legal officer.

He says Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton both asked to resign last week. He refused Brooks's resignation the first time because "I trusted her."

James says, “It's important to note there was no evidence of impropriety [by Brooks and Hinton]. If it emerges, you have a different piece.”

When asked if the News of the World was sacrificed to save Rebekah Brooks? Rupert says no. “I regret very much the people who are out of work, but the two decisions are unrelated.”

10:55 a.m. Why Clive Goodman’s fees were paid

The committee questioned why the company would even think of paying the legal fees for Clive Goodman. Goodman, a former editor for the News of the World, was arrested and jailed for phone hacking in 2007. James says, “It is sometimes customary to make contributions to legal costs...But I have no specific knowledge [of this case].”

When asked if they made any payments to Goodman or Mulcaire after their 2006 convictions, James says he was surprised that the legal fees had been paid, but that he does not know who approved the payments. “I don’t have direct knowledge of the details but i can tell you that I was surprised as you are.”

10:51 a.m. We’re now heavy into a discussion of the payoffs

Davies said, “It seems odd to me as a layman..it seems bizarre that someone can get phone hacked and gets 20,000 [pounds] and some gets 600,000. Do you not see that smells funny?”

James replies, “I understand where you’re coming from. You look at these amounts and say why would a company do that?...We had senior distinguished outside counsel, and we asked what sort of damages we should expect to pay if we lost the case and it was substantial.”

Davies keeps interrupting but James pushes on.

10:44 a.m. Rupert Murdoch’s responsibilities

Philip Davies, MP, asks Rupert about his involvement with his newspapers and how often did he speak to the editor of the News of the World? Rupert said it was very seldom. “I spoke with the editor of the Sunday Times every Saturday, not to influence him...I'm not really in touch with that. If there's anything I am in touch with, it's the Wall Street Journal. I work a 10-12 hour day and I can’t tell you the multitude of issues I am dealing with.”

Davies continues to push:

Davies: Did you speak to the editor of the Sun twice a day?

Rupert: No.

Davies: I am intrigued by how these conversations going go...I would have expected the editor to say, “We paid Gordon Brown 600,000 pounds.”

Rupert: No...That's not how it went...He might have told me we added two more pages for football [coverage] that week.

10:42 a.m. Settlements again the focus of questioning

The committee continues to question the settlements paid out. James said the management parted ways with Tom Crone, the company lawyer who negotiated settlement payments to victims, last week. He said that he wondered about the amount of settlements being paid out, but assumed litigation costs would be higher. When asked if he is aware of the term "willful blindness,” James says no. “This is my first time in a committee meeting like this... We were advised fundamentally to tell the truth.”

10:40 a.m. Murdochs only found out in late 2010 of further hacking

James said they only found out the hacking was wider spread at the end of 2010 when the police told them.

10:35 a.m. The hacking was supposedly a thing of the past

James said that a full year before any new allegations in the press arose in September of 2010, there was no reason to believe the hacking was anything but in the past. When Adrian Sanders, another committee member, asks if they were aware the Mulcaire case involved a criminal act of phone hacking, Murdoch replies, “Yes. In the absent of new evidence, it was a matter that come to light in 2007, before I was there, and this was a matter in the past. The police had closed the case.”

10:32 a.m. Family dynamics

One clear thing is emerging: Rupert Murdoch does not seem at all aware of the daily business of his British companies. James continually must step in to answer detailed questions and correct him. The two seem to be working off separate scripts — or James seems to be working off a script. His father seems to be answering off the cuff.

10:29 a.m. Journalism code of ethics

James says, “We need to think more forcefully about codes of ethics, not just as a company but as an industry as a whole...We welcome the prime minister’s inquiry into journalistic ethics... That's a really good thing for the country and for all of the interested parties to engage in fully. We've set up a management and standards committee that reports to independent directors to look at how we cooperate with investigations and allegations of wrongdoing and how we get to the bottom of it...We hope we can become a paragon of the industry... We think this committee is a better way to go.”

Rupert says, “This country does greatly benefit from having a competitive press and an open society. It's sometimes inconvenient but we are better for it.”

10:28 a.m. A change in headline writing?

When asked if the scandal will make the company reconsider the way the papers write headlines, Murdoch hedges. “We have in this country a wonderful variety of voice. I recognize that headlines can sometimes give offense [pause] but it’s not intentional.”

10:21 a.m. Back to the civil settlements and questions about fraud

Jim Sheridan asks if the Serious Fraud Office (the British equivalent to the FTC) was investigating the company. James said they had no knowledge of that, but “we are a company that takes tax compliance, regulatory compliance... very seriously and is something we very proud of.”

Again the questioning turns to the settlement payouts. James approved the settlements in 2008. His father says it was just a few weeks after he joined the company. James corrects him with “a few months.”

He said he does not know the full amount of the payments and that it is customary to pay settlements rather than go to court. He said the managing editor has the authority to make payments.

10:19 a.m. Twitter tracker

Journalism watchdog The Poynter Institute has set up a separate Twitter account to document the Murdoch hearings. An update from @NOTWfallout records Murdoch’s statement that he doubted the hacking scandal had crossed the Atlantic:

Rupert Murdoch on FBI investigation: We'll cooperate. "I can't believe it happened anywhere in America."less than a minute ago via HootSuite Favorite Retweet Reply

10:15 a.m. Rupert Murdoch denies responsibility

When Sheridan asks Rupert, “Do you accept full responsiblity for these matters?” he replies, “No.” He goes on to say that the people “I trusted to run the company,” are responsible. Not him.

10:10 a.m. Questions about the News of the World closing continue

James returns to the reasons for why they made the decision to shut the tabloid down. “We believe the actions of some reporters at News of World... have fundamentally tarnished the trust of our readers. This is a sincere regret of mine, and my fathers.”

“What happened at News was wrong. We have apologized profusely,” the younger Murdoch continues. “We are working closely with police to find out where wrongdoing was and hold people accountable. We have admitted liability and set up the appropriate third-party compensation schemes. These are all matters we are engaged in."

10:06 a.m. Murdoch questioned about his relationship to David Cameron

Jim Sheridan, another committee member, asks why Rupert went through the back door at No. 10 Downing Street when he visited Prime Minister David Cameron.

Rupert: “I was asked to come through back door... I was invited for a cup of tea for the support we provided Mr. Cameron... I also went in the back door to visit [former PM] Gordon Brown.” The audience breaks into laughter.

10:04 a.m. News of the World shut down because they were “ashamed”

Rupert Murdoch says they shut down the tabloid at the heart of the scandal because they were ashamed of the revelations. When asked why they risked the jobs of 200 people (by closing News of World) before implicating the executives involved, Rupert Murdoch replied, “We've made every effort to find jobs for those people...We had broken our trust with our readers.”

10:01 a.m. Questions turn to Glenn Mulcaire

Glenn Mulcaire was the private investigator hired by News of World to undertake the hackings. Rupert Murdoch said that no one was fired after the hackings came to light as it was a police matter.

9:56 a.m. Rupert did not know about settlements to hacking suits

Rupert did not know about the the settlements to pay for the hacking civil suits. The payments were authorized by James. James said, “My father became aware [of settlements] in 2009 after the settlements became public.”

Watson asked, “At what point did you find out that criminality was endemic at News of World?” Rupert Murdoch replies, “Criminality is a very wide-ranging word... I was absolutely shocked, appalled and ashamed when I heard about the Milly Dowler case.”

Watson asks if there was collective amnesia that made his employees forget to bring these matters to his attention. Rupert Murdoch simply replies: No.

9:55 a.m. James Murdoch steps in

Rupert seems very foggy about the events being discussed. James steps in to take a question directed to his father.

9:50 a.m. Intense exchange between Tom Watson and Rupert Murdoch

Tom Watson: In 2006, when Goodman was convicted of voicemail hacking, were you aware of that?

Rupert: Yes...We worked with police on further investigation and very quickly appointed a very leading team of lawyers to investigate further.

Watson: None of your UK staff made you aware of the [arrest for blackmail]?

Rupert: The blackmail charge, no.... "

Watson: Mr Murdoch, a judge found a reporter guilty of blackmail..."

Rupert: Why didn't he put him in jail?

Watson: "Because it was a civil case..."

9:49 a.m. Rupert Murdoch takes questions

Rupert Murdoch starts off, “If I may say something. This is not an excuse, it may be an explanation. News International is 1 percent of my company. We employ 53,000 people around the world.” He goes on to say that he did not know who lied to him about the extent of the hackings.

9:46 a.m. No evidence of Brooks’s knowledge

James said that though News Corp. accepted the resignations of Brooks and Hinton, “There is no evidence that I have seen of any impropriety by them.”

9:44 a.m. Civil lawsuits produced new evidence

James said that the company relied on the police who said there was no need to open an investigation in 2008. However, civil trials in 2010, the lawsuits over hacking, produced new evidence. “This is a matter of deep frustration...and regret. Is a matter of deep regret that the facts could not be gotten to faster."

9:42 a.m.: Front-row guests

Sitting behind the Murdochs in the front row are Joel Klein, News Corp.'s advisor, and Wendi Deng, Rupert's third wife.

9:40 a.m.: Sienna Miller was first hacking victim to come to their attention

James said that after Sienna Miller hackings came to light, “We went to police...We have apologized unreservedly...We acted as swiftly and transparently as possible.”

9:39 a.m. James Murdoch apologizes

James starts off apologizing for the phone hacking, “[It's] a matter of great regret. These actions do not live up to our standards around the world.” Rupert interrupts his son: “This is the most humble day of my life.”

9:35 a.m. The Murdochs arrive

James Murdoch asks to make an opening statement, but he is denied. He'll submit it in writing. John Whittingdales, the chairman of the committee (Culture, Media and Sport) makes opening statement: “It's...clear Parliament has been misled.”

9:30 a.m. Let the live blogging commence

Greetings, all, and welcome to our live blog of the Parliament committee's questioning of the Murdochs, Rupert and James, and later Rebekah Brooks, the former head of News Corp's British newspaper division. I'm in Washington; they're in London. We should be getting started here in moments. Stand by...

Further reading:

Key relationships in the phone hacking scandal

David Cameron on shaky ground

Sean Hoare, News of the World whistleblower, found dead

Erik Wemple’s take on Murdoch

By and  |  08:30 AM ET, 07/19/2011

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