Murdochs to face Leveson as threat of US legal action grows

Inquiry sets aside three days to hear testimony from Rupert and James amid tightened security

LAST UPDATED AT 08:27 ON Fri 20 Apr 2012

WITH a dozen Sun reporters on police bail, his protégé Rebekah Brooks facing the prospect of criminal charges and his media empire branded "toxic", Rupert Murdoch now faces the prospect of a high-profile grilling at the Leveson Inquiry as storm clouds gather in America as well as Britain.

The News Corp chief executive and his son James Murdoch will give evidence to the probe into media ethics next week. Three whole days have been set aside for what will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of the long-running inquiry.

Neither of the Murdochs will have happy memories of the last time they were grilled by the British establishment.

They appeared together last yeat before MPs at the Commons' Culture, Media and Sport Committee to answer questions about phone hacking. On that occasion Rupert said it was the "most humble" day of his life and ended up covered in shaving foam.

"The inquiry is stepping up security at the Royal Courts of Justice to avoid a repeat of the incident at the Commons committee hearing when a protester attacked Rupert Murdoch with a foam pie," says The Times.

According to The Daily Telegraph: "The pair, who will appear separately, are expected to answer questions regarding the relationship between politicians and the press, and their British newspapers including the now-defunct News of the World."

The Times predicts that Rupert Murdoch will also be quizzed about his abandoned attempt to buy out BSkyB, and says his appearance is scheduled to be the longest evidence session of the inquiry to date.

Things are not going well for the Murdochs on the other side of the Atlantic either, where, as was predicted last week, phone-hacking lawyer Mark Lewis is gathering evidence for possible US lawsuits.

The Guardian reports that Lewis and his American partner have been approached by at least ten people making allegations against News Corporation in the US.

Four are to do with phone hacking while Lewis told the paper that the others claims relate to "untoward dark arts [used] to obtain information that should be private". · 

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