US senators raise heat on Murdoch

Two Democratic senators have turned up the political pressure on News Corp, reviving questions about whether a scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspapers could jump across the Atlantic.

A day after a damning parliamentary report into Mr Murdoch’s handling of the affair, News Corp’s directors gave him their unanimous backing, quelling speculation that he might split his chairman and chief executive roles.

But their statement was followed by news that Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia had written to Lord Justice Leveson, who is leading an inquiry into the conduct of the British press, asking for any evidence that “troubling and sometimes criminal conduct” had occurred in the US or involved US citizens.

Mr Rockefeller, who first raised concerns about phone hacking last summer, chairs the Senate commerce committee, which has the power to hold hearings, and has oversight of the Federal Communications Committee.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations opened a probe into News Corp after Mr Rockefeller’s intervention.

He widened his concerns to include allegations of payments to police officers and other public officials, saying US-traded companies such as News Corp had “a duty to exercise adequate financial controls over their subsidiaries”.

Frank Lautenberg, the New Jersey senator who called last summer for investigations into possible breaches of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, said allegations in Tuesday’s report by a House of Commons committee on media made it “critical” that US authorities ensured that US laws had not been broken.

News Corp had no comment.

Read more at The Financial Times.