Report: U.S. readying News Corp. subpoenas

James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch and Chairman and Chief Executive of News Corporation, Europe and Asia and Chairman of News Corporation Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks former Chief Executive of News International. Getty Images

James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks
James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch and Chairman and Chief Executive of News Corporation, Europe and Asia and Chairman of News Corporation Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks former Chief Executive of News International.
Getty

The Wall Street Journal, one of Rupert Murdoch's own papers, reports that the Justice Department is preparing subpoenas as it ramps-up its early investigations into claims News Corp. journalists in Britain sought to hack into the phones of Sept. 11 victims.

An unnamed government official apparently confirmed the early stages of the quest for information from News Corp., but told the newspaper senior Justice officials have yet to sign off on the subpoena request.

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Officials confirmed to the Associated Press last week that the FBI has launched an investigation into claims reporters working for News of the World - Murdoch's now-dismantled U.K. tabloid - tried to pay ex-cops in New York to obtain the personal information of 9/11 family members.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports Friday that FBI agents are to contact Jude Law over his claim that his cell phone was hacked into by The Sun - another Murdoch-owned U.K. tabloid - while he was at a New York City airport.

So-called phone hacking, accessing someone's voicemails without their knowledge, is illegal under U.S. law, as is trying to bribe an ex-police officer for a third party's personal information.

Rupert Murdoch himself returned this week to his corporate headquarters in New York after facing British lawmakers' questions over the scandal.

The media baron insists he had no knowledge the hacking practice at his newspaper (or newspapers) was widespread, and both he and his son James - in charge of all News Corp. operations in Europe and Asia - told a Parliamentary committee as much on Tuesday.

Friday, however, one crucial claim made by James is in question, and it goes to the very heart of the underlying claim that his family's $43 billion business went to great lengths to shove the hacking issue under the carpet several years ago by making large payouts to an early hacking victim.

Did James Murdoch lie about scope of hacking?

James Murdoch told the British lawmakers, and still insists today, he never saw an email containing a transcript of an allegedly hacked phone message by one of his reporters. He says, at the time, he believed the hacking was an isolated misdeed by just one of his journalists. The email proves otherwise.

Now, a former legal aid and an ex-News of the World editor have come forward claiming the younger Murdoch's testimony on Tuesday was "mistaken," as they both informed him of the email - which would have made him aware of the true scope of the alleged illegal practices at his newspaper.

  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the CBSNews.com foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.

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