Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International, has agreed to give evidence on Tuesday to the Commons culture, media and sport committee.
However, Rupert Murdoch and his son James declined to attend the hearing and will be personally served with summons. The younger Murdoch offered to appear on 10 August instead, while the older said that he would not attend the select committee, but would be questioned at the judge-led inquiry. It is unclear whether parliament can compel the men to attend, as they are US citizens.
In a statement which makes clear the extent of their displeasure with Murdoch, the committee said:
The Committee has made clear its view that all three should appear to account for the behaviour of News International and for previous statements made to the Committee in Parliament, now acknowledged to be false.
Accordingly, the Committee has this morning decided to summon Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch to appear before the Select Committee in Parliament at 2.30pm on Tuesday 19 July 2011.
In her response, Brooks said that she will be unable to discuss certain matters “in detail” because of the on-going police investigation.
As you are well aware, the Metropolitan police investigation into illegal voicemail interception continues and we are fully cooperating with that. Aspects of the work to which your committee may wish to refer are likely to be relevant to that investigation. Indeed, the police have already asked us specifically to provide information about those matters.
I understand that various select committees have approached the police over time in relation to this and other cases. The police’s position has been to co-operate where this did not directly impact on the investigation in question. In those cases where it did potentially impact, the police have historically declined to comment at that stage. Our understanding is that this approach has not been challenged. Given that we are in the midst of an investigation, and we do not want to prejudice it, I hope you will understand why we feel it would not be appropriate to respond to such questions at present in order to be consistent with [the] police’s approach, and that as a result this may prevent me from discussing these matters in detail.
The news comes after Neil Wallis, a former News of the World editor, was arrested by police this morning in relation to phone-hacking. Wallis, 60, was executive editor at the newspaper from 2007-09, and was previously deputy editor of the Sun.
UPDATE: Rupert and James Murdoch have both agreed to attend the hearing on Tuesday.