In his appearance before Parliament today, Rupert Murdoch must account for many things. Among them: What did he know about what’s been revealed and when did he know it? What more does he know that hasn’t been revealed? Why did he stand by News International chief Rebekah Brooks so long?
He could well breeze through those questions. What may give him more trouble will be questions about the testimony of his lieutenants before a parliament committee. A few choice excerpts here, via the Guardian:
March 2003, culture, media and sport select committee
MP: Ever paid the police for information?
Brooks:We have paid the police for information in the past and it’s been....
MP: And will you do it in the future?
Brooks: It depends.... [Check out the video to see the mien of Brooks during this line of inquiry. She appears almost defiant, as if the question annoys her.]
Andy Coulson [News of the World editor from 2003 to 2007]: We offer it within the [Press Complaints Commission] code and within the law and if there’s a clear public interest... and the same holds for private detectives for subterfuge, for video bags, whatever you want to talk about.
MP: It’s illegal for police officers to receive payments.
Coulson: No, no, no — as I said, within the law.
January 2007, culture, media and sport select committee
MP: There will be checks in place that...reporters...will be required to give undertaking that there have been no breaches of the code.
Les Hinton [then-executive chairman, News International]: Anything that can make the new regime more rigorous we will do, but we are running aggressive newspapers and the job of them... most of the time is to find out information that other people don’t want them to find out.
MP: And you carried a full rigorous internal inquiry, and you’re absolutely convinced that [you’ve caught the only person involved in phone hacking]?
LH: Yes we have, and I believe he was the only person, but that investigation under the new editor continues.
July 2009, culture, media and sport committee
Andy Coulson: I never condoned the use of phone hacking, nor do I have any recollection of instances where phone hacking took place.... My instructions to the staff were clear: We do not use subterfuge of any kind unless there was a clear public interest in doing so.
So, just for starters, Mr. Murdoch: What was the public interest in snooping around in the voicemail of Milly Dowler?