Latest on the News International hacking scandal #liveblog 8

22:00 – Murdoch denies any talk of selling UK newspapers, says damage to company is nothing that will not be recovered

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch has rubbished reports earlier this week that claimed the idea of selling News International, which includes The Sun and The Times, had been discussed by News Corp.

“People close to the company have said the company has considered a separation or sale of its newspaper assets. Mr. Murdoch, who is famously devoted to the newspaper business, called such reports ‘pure rubbish. Pure and total rubbish….give it the strongest possible denial you can give’,” the WSJ reports.

In the interview with the WSJ Murdoch also said that News Corp had handled the crisis “extremely well”; had made only “minor mistakes”; and that the damage to the company was “nothing that will not be recovered”.

19:40 – FBI to investigate News Corporation over 9/11 phone hacking claims

The Associated Press is reporting that the FBI has opened an investigation into allegations that News Corp tried to hack into the phones of September 11 victims.

It follows a growing number of US politicians calling for an investigation (below for earlier coverage) and last night’s news that angry family members of victims of the 9/11 terror attacks were calling for a US investigation into allegations that journalists at the News of the World tabloid attempted to hack the phones of their lost love ones.

AP said that the official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly — although it should remembered that at the moment there is no evidence other than a Daily Mirror report.

However, if this does prove to be true it could be, as some have said, Murdoch’s Watergate moment.

“The FBI’s New York office hasn’t commented. There’s been no response from News Corp. or to a message left with the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan,” AP said.

16::45 – It is confirmed, Rupert & James Murdoch will attend the select committee on Tuesday. One to watch

16:35 – It is being reported that Rupert & James Murdoch are ‘considering’ attending the culture the select committee on Tuesday

The report comes from Sky News journalist Mark Kleinman. If that is correct they will attend along with Rebekah Brooks who it was confirmed earlier (12:10) will also attend the select committee on Tuesday.

“Hearing from senior sources that Rupert and James Murdoch in process of informing DCMS committee that they’ll attend hearing on Tuesday.

“To state the obvious, given the fast-moving nature of this situation, it’s possible that the Murdochs may yet decide not to attend,” Kleinman tweeted.

16:10 Met Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and ex-NotW journalist Neil Wallis had dinner together in the middle of the police inquiry into phone hacking, according to PoliticsHome.

According to the site a list of engagements between Sir Paul and members of the media shows he dined with Wallis, who was deputy editor of the newspaper at the time, in September 2006. Sir Paul was Deputy Commissioner of the force at the time.

15:30 – It is being reported that former Sun showbiz journalist Victoria Newton is to edit the Sun on Sunday

Newton is a former editor of the Sun’s Bizarre showbiz column. The report came via Guardian journalist Jonathan Haynes. He tweeted it came via “an excellent source”.

Newton would join colleague Dominic Mohan, another former Bizarre editor, who is now editor of the Sun. Other Bizarre editors who went on to become editors Piers Morgan and, of course, Andy Coulson.

Last night it was reported that The Sun on Sunday could launch as soon as August 7 with the first issue possibly free.

Under Newton’s editorship, “Bizarre” was known for presenting awards like Shagger of the Year or Caner of the Year and various other awards in the paper’s end of year awards.

15:00 – Facebook protest organised outside Rupert Murdoch’s New York home today

The protest is being organised today via Facebook by the group ColorOfChange and although sparked by a different issue it piles pressure on Murdoch. The group last week sent more than 110,000 petitions to Fox News chief Roger Ailes calling on him to fire Eric Bolling for playing on racial stereotypes. They received no response.

“So we’re going directly to the man in charge, Rupert Murdoch. This Thursday July 14, New York City-area ColorOfChange members will deliver the message in front of Murdoch’s 5th Avenue apartment building.The more of us there, the stronger the message, and the bigger the story in the press.

“News over the past week tells us that Murdoch will do anything for profits — using race to push an ugly agenda focused on driving us apart to wire tapping people’s homes.

“That’s why it’s so important that you attend if you can. If you are able, please join us and let us know by sending us a message at nyc@colorofchange.org.”

14:20 -Is it the 90s? Ulrika Jonsson talks about hacking after it was earlier reported (10:15) that Abi Titmuss was to sue

Ulrika Jonsson, who wrote a column for the paper for four years until 2007, will tell ITV1′s Tonight programme that the Metropolitan police and a journalist at The News of the World warned her about phone hacking. She says evidence shown to her on hacking included ‘pin codes, numbers for my front gate:

Jonsson says: “I was contacted by the Met Police on my mobile phone and they left me a number and said please call me back we have some very important evidence we want to show you. There were pin codes, numbers for my automatic front gate where I lived and the feeling that, according to these notes, that I was definitely being watched. Immediately my head started pounding. I felt … I really felt very sick. I felt immediately like my stomach was turning. I felt really scared – somebody’s been watching or certainly somebody’s been listening to my life.

We learnt in May that Jonsson and Hugh Grant were considering taking legal action against the News of the World over claims that they too had been targeted by journalists in the phone hacking scandal.

I don’t understand why the paper would hack someone who worked for it and who is of marginal interest to anyone (other than herself and publicist).

13:55 – Channel 4 reporting rumours that John Yates has tendered resignation to members of the Metropolitan Police Authority.

Channel 4 political correspondent Cathy Newman tweets “Met ‘currently denying’. Could just be rumour” and then later tweeting “Met now insisting John Yates isn’t resigning – ‘currently’ or otherwise”.

13:10 – Rupert and James Murdoch summoned to Parliament

The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee has summoned Rupert and James Murdoch to appear before MPs next Tuesday after receiving letters saying they could not attend the session.

If they leave they leave the country they will be in contempt of Parliament if they fail to fly back by Tuesday – full story on Brand Republic.

12:10 – Rebekah Brooks will attend the select committee on Tuesday. Rupert Murdoch will not appear. James Murdoch is not available on that date

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg tweets that brooks will appear at 14:30 on Tuesday afternoon at the Culture Committee. She adds that the committee is sending summons for both the Murdochs. However as non-UK citizens they do not have to attend.

11: 30 – Rupert Murdoch does not believe that the BSkyB deal is dead, the New York Times reports.

“The deal to buy the remaining 61% of BSkyB that it did not own was the single biggest ever attempted in the long history of the News Corporation, and the withdrawal is perhaps the most significant setback of Rupert Murdoch’s career. Yet Mr. Murdoch is said to remain hopeful that the transaction is salvageable. One person involved in the discussions said that the News Corporation chairman saw the withdrawal as a way to mollify his critics while waiting for the anger to die down.

“Rupert is thinking long term here, I don’t think he believes this deal is dead,” said this person, who did not want to be named while discussing confidential matters. “He’s just looking for ways to relieve pressure for the moment, to give this some breathing room. He fundamentally believes News Corp. can bounce back,” the New York Times reports.

11:00 – The 60-year old man arrested earlier today (9:45) is a former senior NotW journalist

Sky News Crime Correspondent, Martin Brunt, says the man is former #NOTW deputy editor Neil Wallis:

“Former NoW deputy editor Neil Wallis is man arrested by phone-hacking investigators

“Mr. Wallis, 60, was deputy editor of NoW from 2003 to 2007, then executive editor. Left company in 2009. He was on Press Complaints Commiss,” Brunt tweets.

Andy Coulson is said to have brought in Neil Wallis as his deputy editor in 2003 and it was Wallis who hired Ian Edmonson in 2004. Edmonson, the paper’s assistant editor (news), was suspended before Christmas over the then Sienna Miller hacking claims.

10:30 – News Corp calls in PR agency Edelman to advise on NotW hacking scandal, according to PR Week

The magazine says that the agency will advise News International’s newly created management and standards committee, which is investigating the unfolding crisis.

“The committee comprises News International general manager Will Lewis, corporate affairs director Simon Greenberg, and general counsel Jeff Palker.

“Edelman reports directly to Lewis, who joined News International last year and is untainted by the phone-hacking scandal. The agency’s work is being run from its UK headquarters, led by Alex Bigg, managing director for corporate and financial, and Jamie Lundie, managing director for public affairs,” PR Week reports.

10:15 – It is being reported by Sky News that Abi Titmuss is to sue News International over alleged phone hacking

World sighs. As Media Week noted in a diary piece last year:

“All well and good, but it is not 1995, Oasis have disbanded and Abi Titmuss was last spotted playing Lady Macbeth in the Seagull Theatre in Lowestoft. So can the ever-dwindling lads’ mag industry ever get its buzz back? “The lads’ market won’t reach the scale it reached in the past,” admits Campbell. “It is a tough market and no-one in my position would say otherwise.”

10:00 – PM backs ad-style regulation for newspapers

Could the newspaper industry end up with a body like the Advertising Standards authority regulating it? The ASA is often seen as having little real power, Campaign has the story.

“The Prime Minister singled out the industry’s system for praise when he announced an inquiry into the future regulation of the press as well as the behaviour of newspapers and the police in the hacking affair.

“In a statement to MPs,  Cameron said the ad industry’s system worked well as he disclosed that the options to be considered by the inquiry would include “independent” as well as self-regulation and statutory regulation,” according to Campaign.

09:45 – A 60-year-old man has been arrested in London by detectives investigating phone hacking at News of the World, the BBC is reporting.

He was arrested early this morning at residential address on “suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications”. Speculation he is another private investigator.

09:40 – Nick Clegg is speaking on BBC News he says “a light has been shone on the murky underworld of British public press”.

He says it is time for “fundamental reform”, says something big has changed and that the “pillars of the establishment are crumbling”. ‘

09:30 – MPs to decide whether to summon News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks to answer questions on the phone-hacking scandal

The BBC reports that the Commons media committee also wants to question News Corporation’s Rupert and James Murdoch but cannot non-UK citizens to appear.

Conservative MP Louise Mensch, a member of the committee, said the Murdochs should take the opportunity to appear.

“We have powers over British citizens, in other words over Mrs Brooks. Rupert and James Murdoch are American citizens, we don’t have any power over them, but I think it would surprise everybody if they were to have the guts to show up. It would show a little bit of leadership, it would be the first step in lancing this giant boil,” the BBC reports.

08:30 – Murdoch’s problems grow as more US politicians join calls for probe after 9/11 revelation

New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg last night called on the Justice Department and the SEC to investigate whether News Corp violated US law by allegedly bribing British police officials:

“The limited information already reported in this case raises serious questions about the legality of the conduct of News Corporation and its subsidiaries under the FCPA,” Lautenberg said. “Further investigation may reveal that current reports only scratch the surface of the problem at News Corporation. Accordingly, I am requesting that DOJ and the SEC examine these circumstances and determine whether U.S. laws have been violated.”

Lautenberg’s call follows that of Jay Rockefeller. On Tuesday he said the US should investigate whether News Corp papers had broken US laws following reports that victims of the September 11 attack.

Lautenberg and Rockefeller were joined by two more fellow Democrats. New Jersey’s Robert Menendez and California Senator Barbara Boxer both called on the DOJ and the SEC to investigate whether News Corp. While US representative Louise Slaughter, a member of the House Rules Committee, also said the “allegations demand a swift and immediate inquiry by the appropriate agencies into whether any US laws were broken”.

She added: “All available options should be pursued- including investigations by the Department of Justice and Congressional hearings.”

The Democrats have been joined by a prominent Republican. The New York Daily News reported that US Representative Peter King ripped Murdoch’s “yellow journalism” in a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller requesting an inquiry. King chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security.

King said: “You think back to the days of 9/11. When people didn’t know who was dead, who was alive, everyone was walking under this cloud. To think that payoffs could have been mad to access the phones of the dead or missing? It is disgusting.

“We have the 10th anniversary coming up. We owe it to the memory of those who were killed, and for the peace of mind of those who survived, to make sure we know what happened.”

Last night it was reported by US website Politico that angry family members of victims of the 9/11 terror attacks, as well as some US lawmakers, are calling for a US investigation into allegations that journalists at the News of the World tabloid attempted to hack the phones of their lost love ones.

That news prompted another New Jersey Senator, this time Robert Menendez, to ask the DOJ to investigate the alleged phone hacking of 9/11 victims, writing: “The U.S. government must ensure that victims in the United States have not been subjected to illegal and unconscionable actions by these newspapers seeking to exploit information about their personal tragedies for profit.”

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