LONDON – News International chairman James Murdoch stood by his original testimony as he appeared for a second time Thursday before British lawmakers investigating the UK phone hacking scandal.
Members of the media committee recalled Murdoch to clear up "inconsistencies" in his July testimony, in which he maintained that he was unaware of the extent of phone hacking at the News of the World until late last year.
Murdoch insisted again Thursday that he was never shown a damaging email marked "For Neville," which indicated the illegal practice went beyond just one rogue reporter.
He said the email "was mentioned to me as evidence that was important with respect of it being a transcript of a voicemail interception that came through, that proved it was on behalf of the News of the World."
Murdoch added, "It was not shown to me, nor was it discussed with me ... that it was for Neville and that it might indicate wider-spread knowledge or wider-spread activities of phone hacking."
Two former executives from the now-defunct Sunday tabloid appeared to contradict Murdoch in their evidence to the committee. The newspaper's chief lawyer, Tom Crone, and editor Colin Myler said they discussed the email with Murdoch in 2008.
Murdoch suggested Myler and Crone had misled lawmakers. "I believe their testimony was misleading, and I dispute it," he said.
The phone hacking saga began when Clive Goodman, the newspaper's former royal correspondent, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator on its payroll, went to jail in 2007 for illegally intercepting voicemails. The issue re-emerged earlier this year when it was revealed that a cell phone belonging to a teenage murder victim was hacked. Other alleged hacking victims then came forward.
Murdoch again expressed regret for the scandal, and said he and the company were examining how to improve its systems to prevent similar problems in future.
One of the leading Labour Party members, Tom Watson, surprised Murdoch and his fellow committee members with one unexpected jibe.
"You must be the first mafia boss in history who didn't know he was running a criminal enterprise," Watson said.
Murdoch appeared shocked and responded that he thought the comment was "inappropriate."
News International is the UK newspaper arm of News Corp., which publishes NewsCore.