Rupert Murdoch’s not-quite-so-apparent-heir James will face even tougher questioning Thursday when he returns to Parliament for more testimony about the phone-hacking scandal that has shaken the News Corp empire. In the latest of a string of disclosures since the UK’s culture media and sport select committee last interviewed Murdoch, The Guardian revealed over the weekend that News International’s disgraced former CEO Rebekah Brooks received $2.7 million, use of a London office and chauffered limousine for two years as part of her severance package when she was fired in the wake of the scandal. ”It is remarkably curious that such a generous package is given to Ms. Brooks when others have been cut loose,” said Tom Watson, the member of parliament who has taken the lead in efforts to expose the scandal surrounding News Of The World. “It is almost as if she hasn’t really left the company. I am sure Mr. Murdoch will want to explain the decision to his shareholders.” Scotland Yard on Friday arrested a journalist from News International paper The Sun as part of a related investigation into News Corp employees bribing police and other government officials. Brooks was editor between 2003 and 2009 before being elevated to chief executive of News International.
Murdoch also faces questions about discrepancies between his previous testimony and assertions by former NOTW executives who testified in September that he knew more about the lawbreaking earlier than he has been willing to concede. That includes a “damning email” Murdoch has said they never showed him, which raises the possibility that he was trying to cover up the extent of lawbreaking when he authorized a $1.4 million out-of-court settlement with a non-disclosure clause to soccer chief Gordon Taylor, a hacking victim who knew that a second reporter had been implicated. In light of these developments and an embarrassing but impotent vote by a significant number of News Corp shareholders against James’ re-election to the company board, his performance Thursday will be under a microscope. As if it hasn’t been already.