Rupert Murdoch, his son News Corp. deputy chief operating officer James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News Corp.'s newspaper division News International, have agreed to appear before the Commons Select Committee next week, says the committee chair John Whittingdale. Several sources are reporting that the three executives will face questions from Members of Parliament about the recent developments in the phone hacking scandal, including reports of bribes to police officers. The hearing will take place on Tuesday at 2:30, and Whittingdale expects a crowd. The Telegraph reports on Whittingdale's announcement about the meeting on BBC:
"I suspect a lot of people will want to attend", says Whittingdale, with considerable understatement. He says that a figure like Murdoch being brought before an HSC is "unprecedented". … "Something we simply could not have imagined seven days ago - even 24 hours ago", says a stunned-looking Laura Kuenssberg on the BBC. She says tickets will "sell faster than the Olympics".
Whittingdale offers slight approval of the executives' decision. "I thought there was a strong chance that Rebekah Brooks would appear, as she is a British citizen and we do have powers to compel British citizens," he said. "But of course the Murdochs are not. I think it's a measure of how serious this is for News International that they have accepted this. I think it's the first sensible thing they've done."
Most other parties continue to react to all the unsensible things News Corp. has done. Bloomberg reports that the company's market value has declined 15 percent since the scandal intensified last week, a drop that amounts to $7 billion. News Corp. is attempting to stop the bleeding with an announcement Tuesday that the company will invest a total of $5 billion in its stock buyback program with the hope that their commitment will inject some confidence into the investment community. Meanwhile, Downing Street has announced that they will support a Labour party motion opposing News Corp.'s takeover of BSkyB.
News Corp.-owned Sky News reported quickly after Whittingdale's announcement that it was still "unclear" whether or not the Murdochs would show up. The Guardian explains why Whittingdale may be reading a little too deeply into News Corp.'s commitment:
The BBC's Michael Crick has said on Twitter that Rupert Murdoch will give appear before the culture committee next week. But that has not been confirmed yet by News International. The culture committee seems to be assuming that Murdoch will turn up on the basis that he said that he would "co-operate". Anyone who has spent time dealing with politicians will know that promising to "co-operate" is not the same thing at all. But the committee may be working on the basis that if it says Murdoch is coming, it will get too embarrassing for him to say no.
Either way, the committee meetings are open to the public. Parliament's website instructs visitors who want to sit in on a committee meeting to "tell a visitor assistant or police officer that you're attending a committee, you will then be placed in the right queue." It will probably be the long one.