If James Murdoch can talk his way out of this one he deserves to succeed his dad at News Corporation

News Corporation deputy COO James Murdoch faces a British Parliamentary Committee this afternoon who will quiz him on his knowledge of phone hacking and various other forms of surveillance carried on routinely at the now-defunct News of the World, of which he was the ultimate boss as executive chairman of News international.

The story has moved on from phone hacking to alleged payments to police officers (illegal) and widespread snooping on all sorts of people, some of whom were the subjects or potential subjects of stories, others who were not.

A leading player in this grubby aspect of News International was former policeman Derek Webb who has been telling the BBC’s Newsnight current affairs programme about his activities.

Most alarmingly these included surveillance of lawyers working for phone-hacking victims.

Former policeman Webb (draw your own conclusions) worked regularly for News International from 2003 and beyond the time James Murdoch joined as executive chairman in 2007.

Murdoch either didn’t know what was going on (as he says), in which case he was a remarkably hands-off executive chairman. Or he did and he’s in even bigger trouble.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.