Murdoch mobbed before MPs' hearing

Rupert Murdoch's car was mobbed by photographers as he arrived for a grilling from British MPs about the phone hacking scandal that has swept from his media empire through the London police and even to the Prime Minister's office.

Some people queued for eight hours to get a seat in the room with the media tycoon during his grilling.

Murdoch, his son James and his former UK newspaper chief Rebekah Brooks were all to be questioned by Parliament's media committee early this morning (NZT].

But the elder Murdoch's Range Rover was surrounded as he arrived at the Houses of Parliament three hours early, and was quickly driven away.

London's Metropolitan Police force said last night it had asked watchdog to investigate its head of public affairs over the scandal - the fifth senior police official being investigated.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission will look at Dick Fedorcio's role in hiring former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis as a PR adviser to the police.

Early this morning, former Metropolitan Police Commission Sir Paul Stephen appeared before Parliament's home affairs committee to answer questions about his surprise resignation over the hacking scandal.

He said his decision to quit was "very sad" but continuing speculation meant he had to go quickly rather than take his time, particularly because of the task of organising the policing for next year's Olympic Games in London.

Asked about the hiring of Neil Wallis, he said the contract was "very minor and part-time".

He said he had no reason to doubt Wallis' integrity or associate him with hacking when he hired him.

Meanwhile, News Corp is reportedly considering replacing Rupert Murdoch as its chief executive - amid revelations the family have lost almost US$1 billion ($1.75 billion) because of the drop in the value of the company's stock since the phone-hacking scandal erupted.

Citing insiders who could not be named, the Bloomberg news agency said a decision on Murdoch's future would depend in part on his performance at this morning's parliamentary committee hearing.

- NZ Herald

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