Parliament Session Called To Discuss Hacking Scandal

Britain's prime minister called Monday for an emergency session of Parliament to discuss the phone-hacking and bribery scandal at the now-defunct News Of The World, as authorities said they may open a wider investigation of the tabloid's owner, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

Prime Minister David Cameron said it "may well be right to have Parliament meet on Wednesday so I can make a further statement."

British Prime Minister David Cameron attends a question and answer session Sunday at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Cameron is cutting short a trip to Africa to attend an emergency session of Parliament, being held to discuss the broadening British phone-hacking scandal. i i

hide captionBritish Prime Minister David Cameron attends a question and answer session Sunday at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Cameron is cutting short a trip to Africa to attend an emergency session of Parliament, being held to discuss the broadening British phone-hacking scandal.

Christopher Furlong/AFP/Getty Images
British Prime Minister David Cameron attends a question and answer session Sunday at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Cameron is cutting short a trip to Africa to attend an emergency session of Parliament, being held to discuss the broadening British phone-hacking scandal.

British Prime Minister David Cameron attends a question and answer session Sunday at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Cameron is cutting short a trip to Africa to attend an emergency session of Parliament, being held to discuss the broadening British phone-hacking scandal.

Christopher Furlong/AFP/Getty Images

The scandal, which began with allegations that journalists at the News of the World hacked the cellphones of celebrities and crime victims, has not only brought down the tabloid, which folded last week after 169 years in print, but also engulfed Murdoch's entire media empire.

Subsequent allegations surfaced that News of the World paid bribes to police for information.

The scandal has forced the resignation of Paul Stephenson, the head of Scotland Yard, and prompted a wave of arrests. Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who made a decision two years ago to not reopen police inquiries into phone hacking, also announced his resignation Monday.

On Sunday, Rebekah Brooks, the British CEO of News Corp. and a former editor at the tabloid, was arrested by police and questioned for several hours. Last week, Andy Coulson, another former editor who worked as Cameron's press secretary until early this year, was also arrested.

On Monday, a lawyer for Brooks, Stephen Parkinson, said Brooks was not guilty of any crime and that police would "have to give an account of their actions" considering "the enormous reputational damage" she's suffered.

In the latest twist in the legal saga, Britain's Serious Fraud Office said Monday that it's giving "full consideration" to a request from a lawmaker that it open an investigation into News Corp.

Murdoch, and his son, James, a vice president at News Corp. that handles many of the day-to-day operations, are scheduled to appear before parliament later on Tuesday to answer British lawmakers' questions.

"This is a major blow to Rupert Murdoch. He is extremely close to Brooks," said NPR's Philip Reeves, reporting from London.

Murdoch, and his son, James, a vice president at News Corp. that handles many of the day-to-day operations, are scheduled to appear before parliament later on Tuesday to answer British lawmakers' questions.

Cameron, speaking in Pretoria, South Africa, on the first day of a two-day visit to the continent, insisted his government had "taken very decisive action" by setting up a judge-led inquiry into wrongdoing at the newspaper and relations between politicians, the media and police.

"We have helped to ensure a large and properly resourced police investigation that can get to the bottom of what happened, and wrongdoing, and we have pretty much demonstrated complete transparency in terms of media contact," Cameron said.

Stephenson resigned Sunday over his hiring of a former News of the World executive editor, Neil Wallis, who has also been arrested over the scandal. In his resignation speech, Stephenson made pointed reference to Cameron's hiring of Coulson, a former editor of the shuttered tabloid who was arrested earlier this month over hacking.

NPR's Reeves said Stephenson meant to draw "a comparison between his decision to hire Wallace and Cameron's decision to hire Coulson. Stephenson is alleging that he had no knowledge of Wallis' involvement in the hacking affair when he hired him. Cameron, on the other hand, did know that Coulson had left the News of the World under a cloud."

Cameron said the situations of the government and the police were "completely different," because allegations of police corruption "have had a direct bearing on public confidence into the police inquiry into the News of the World and indeed into the police themselves."

NPR's Philip Reeves and Larry Miller in London and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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