News World Murdoch could be quizzed

Murdoch could be quizzed

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Rupert Murdoch could be interviewed by British police over the phone-hacking scandal, according to UK media reports.

Detectives reportedly first contacted Murdoch in 2013 to arrange to question him over allegations of crime at his British newspapers.

But they agreed to a request from the media mogul’s lawyers to wait until the long-running phone-hacking trial was finished, The Guardian newspaper reported on Tuesday.

It said the interview was expected to take place “in the near future in the UK” and would be conducted “under caution”. That’s the legal warning given to suspects.

Asked about the prospect of Murdoch being questioned, a Metropolitan police spokesman told AAP “that’s not something we are prepared to discuss”.

The Guardian reports Murdoch’s son, James, could also be questioned.

Former Murdoch confidante Rebekah Brooks on Tuesday was cleared of all charges in a dramatic end to the News of the World trial that saw former editor Andy Coulson convicted of plotting to hack phones.

The jury delivered their verdicts after eight days of deliberations and nearly six months of evidence sparked by the scandal that led to News Corp boss Murdoch shutting down the Sunday tabloid in disgrace in mid-2011.

Coulson, 46, who was forced to resign as British Prime Minister David Cameron’s media chief over the scandal, now faces jail following his conviction at the Old Bailey in London.

But the flame-haired Brooks, once one of Australian-born Murdoch’s closest aides, will walk free after being cleared of conspiring to intercept mobile phone voicemails and of plotting to pay officials for information.

The guilty verdict for Coulson increases the possibility that Murdoch’s British company News UK – formerly News International – could be charged as a corporation, the Guardian reports.

That could lead to charges against the company’s former board of directors including Murdoch and his son James.

Brooks gave detailed evidence during the phone-hacking trial about life inside News International and her dealings with Murdoch.

In mid-February she recalled one of the first times the Australian came to her office after she was appointed deputy editor at News of the World.

Murdoch’s advice was: “Keep your head down. Don’t court publicity.”

Brooks revealed she’d sometimes edit the Sunday paper which meant taking a call from the boss on Saturday night – wherever he was.

“He would ask ‘What’s going on?’, that was always his opening gambit, and it was up to you to tell him what was going on,” Brooks said during her evidence.

“He was obsessed by news, even if there was a breaking story coming out that didn’t feature heavily in your paper.”

What’s been dubbed by some as “the trial of the century” centred on News of the World’s efforts to hack the phones of Britain’s royal family, politicians, celebrities and victims of crime, including a murdered schoolgirl and families of people killed in the 2005 London bombings.