LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday faced a deepening political crisis over his relationships with tainted figures in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, with the British leader cutting short an official visit to Africa in an attempt to stanch the escalating fallout of the phone-hacking scandal at home.
Pressure on Cameron mounted as the scandal began to resemble a Shakespearean play, with its high-profile victims strewn across Britain’s public stage. One day after the head of Scotland Yard resigned, one of his key deputies, the embattled John Yates, followed suit, with calls growing for a broader housecleaning in the 51,000-member police force.
Following the resignation of Britain's top police officer and amid calls for yet another Murdoch media probe the prime minister says he'll return from an Africa trip to face lawmakers again. (July 18)
A looks at some of those involved in the phone-hacking scandal.
News of the World scandal
Another power player claimed by the scandal — Rebekah Brooks, a former top Murdoch executive who was arrested Sunday and released on bail after nine hours of questioning — is to testify before Parliament on Tuesday. Joining her will be her former bosses, Murdoch and his son James, for a committee grilling on News of the World’s phone hacking of thousands of British citizens, including members of the royal family.
On Monday, Ed Miliband, head of the opposition Labor Party, stopped short of directly calling for the prime minister to resign. But he said the questions swirling around Cameron have left him “unable to provide the leadership the country needs.”
He again called on Cameron — who was forced to call a special session of Parliament for Wednesday to address the scandal — to more fully explain his decision to fill the job of communication director at No. 10 Downing Street with Andy Coulson, the former editor of Murdoch’s now-shuttered News of the World. Coulson, who resigned in January as the scandal intensified, was arrested last week in connection with illicit newsgathering.
In another development Monday, the Guardian newspaper reported that Sean Hoare, a former reporter for News Corp. papers who first alleged that Coulson was aware of phone hacking by his staff, had been found dead. Police said the death of the man identified by the paper as Hoare was “not thought to be suspicious,” the Guardian reported.
Hoare, a longtime British tabloid reporter who had worked at News of the World, was seen as instrumental in linking the scandal back to Coulson. He went on the record in a New York Times article as saying the practice of hacking at News of the World was far more common than the tabloid had admitted.
Miliband demands answers
On Monday, Miliband demanded that Cameron detail his contacts with Brooks, a friend of the prime minister and the former chief executive of News Corp.’s British operations who is charged with illegal interception of communication and bribing police. Miliband called on Cameron to disclose more information about a dinner the prime minister shared with Brooks in December. The meal came two days after a pivotal decision by Cameron’s government to take oversight of News Corp.’s attempted takeover of the lucrative British Sky Broadcasting Corp. out of the hands of a minister who was highly critical of Murdoch.