Under fire James Murdoch to depose before MPs again

Under fire James Murdoch to depose before MPs again

The list of unethical practices has grown longer with new revelations indicating that they were conducted on an industrial scale and as a matter of routine to gather information about celebrities and others for use in sensational news stories in the now-defunct tabloid.

The latest 'practice' revealed is covert surveillance, which includes following individuals and capturing their activities on camera or video.

Murdoch's empire is under pressure for using unethical and illegal practices such as phone-hacking, computer hacking, 'pinging' (tracking location of mobile phones), 'blagging' (masquerading as someone else to secure data by phone) and now covert surveillance.

MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the House of Commons will probe Murdoch on his earlier claim that he was not aware of phone-hacking in his news organisations, when emails and statements by former employees claimed otherwise.

In a letter to the committee, Tom Crone, the former News of the World legal chief, has told MPs that emails published last week appear to show that James Murdoch knew about the 'for Neville' email in May 2008 – years before Murdoch claimed he was told about widespread hacking at the now-defunct newspaper.

In the letter to the culture, media and sport committee published yesterday, Crone said that Murdoch "already had knowledge of the new evidence (the 'for Neville' email)" as a result of a meeting with Colin Myler, then News of the World editor.

Media baron Rupert Murdoch and his son James had earlier appeared before the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee on July 19 and apologised to the victims of the phone-hacking scandal.

Private investigator Derek Webb yesterday went on television to reveal that he conducted covert surveillance at the behest of the tabloid of 100 individuals between 2003 and 2011, supplying its newsroom with information on celebrities, including Prince William and a host of politicians and celebrities close to the royal family.

 Over eight years, Webb was paid to follow 100 targets, according to the BBC, which said a 'dossier' indicated that the covert surveillance was conducted on an 'industrial scale'.

Webb told the BBC that he was not ashamed of his actions and that he did nothing illegal.

He said that shortly after setting up his own private detective agency in 2003 he was contacted by the News of the World and offered work.

Hacking into phones is illegal, but covert surveillance is not, since it was Webb's legally conducted business under his detective agency he had set up.

 Webb, a former police officer trained by MI5, UK's internal counter-intelligence and security agency, continued to work for the newspaper until it was shut down in July after a string of allegations emerged about the hacking of phones, including that of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

He said: "I was working for them extensively on many jobs throughout that time. I never knew when I was going to be required. They phoned me up by the day or by the night. It could be anywhere in the country. I got calls from numerous journalists on the news desk."

Webb said he never asked his contacts at the newspaper why they had selected the targets for surveillance.

He also defended his work for the newspaper pointing out that what he had done was legal.