After initially refusing, Rupert Murdoch relented on Thursday and agreed to give evidence about the phone hacking scandal to a parliamentary committee next Tuesday.
Murdoch had previously told John Whittingdale, the head of the Culture, Media and Sport committee in the House of Commons, that he was "not available" to attend a hearing the committee is holding on the phone hacking scandal. Whittingdale then sent a deputy sergeant-at-arms to Murdoch's London headquarters, personally delivering a summons to him and his son, James, who is deeply implicated in the scandal. James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks, the head of News International, are also set to attend.
Had Murdoch refused the summons, Whittingdale told reporters earlier on Thursday, Parliament would have entered into "uncharted territory," as legal scholars and parliamentary experts wrangled over what powers the House of Commons had to compel a foreign national (Murdoch is a U.S. citizen) to appear before them.
Murdoch will not face an easy audience when he turns up at the Palace of Westminster. The summons came the day after he withdrew his $12 billion bid for BSkyB amidst an extraordinarily united show of disapproval of the deal from all sides of the House. The chamber then held a debate in which Murdoch was scathingly criticized. Moreover, the scandal surrounding him and News International, shows no signs of abating, as yet another top former editor at the News of the World was arrested in connection with phone hacking on Thursday.
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