RUPERT MURDOCH PHONE HACKING SCANDAL UPDATE

London (CNN) -- The head of London's Metropolitan Police appeared before Parliament Tuesday to testify in the widening phone-hacking scandal that has shaken the foundations of the country's press, police and political establishments.

Paul Stephenson began his testimony by saying he had resigned out of concern that his continued presence at the helm of the department would be a distraction. He also said no one had asked him to resign.
Also set to testify Tuesday is media baron Rupert Murdoch, who will be asked to answer questions from British lawmakers about allegations that journalists working for him illegally eavesdropped on thousands of people.

Murdoch's son James and Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of News of the World, are also scheduled to appear before Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Tuesday to answer questions.
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British Prime Minister David Cameron is cutting short a trip to Africa in the face of the scandal, his office confirmed Monday.

Britain is in an uproar over the affair, which could have global implications. It began with the phone-hacking allegations involving reporters from News of the World -- which led its parent company, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, to shut it down -- and quickly broadened into claims that journalists had paid police for confidential information.

It has led to the resignations of the commissioner and assistant commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police, known as Scotland Yard, forced the closure of one of the country's best-selling newspapers and resulted in 10 people being arrested.

Former News of the World editor Brooks, who went on to become a News International chief executive, is among those arrested. She resigned July 15 and was questioned by police two days later.

The scandal also forced the resignation of Andy Coulson, who quit as Cameron's communications director in January as the scandal began to heat up.

Coulson was News of the World editor when one of the newspaper's reporters and a private investigator were sent to prison after pleading guilty to phone hacking in 2007. He has always denied wrongdoing or knowledge of it, but was arrested earlier this month.
Both Brooks and Coulson are currently free on bail.

Brooks' lawyer, Steven Parkinson, said Monday his client is not guilty of any crime. He warned that police need to consider the damage they had inflicted on her reputation after arresting her and questioning her for nine hours, but not putting any charges or documents before her.

Monday was another day of dizzying developments that also saw the announcement of a broader police corruption probe.

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Home Secretary Theresa May announced the corruption inquiry amid allegations that police accepted payments from journalists in exchange for confidential information.

Monday also brought news of the death of a key figure in the allegations. Former News of the World reporter Sean Hoare, who told the New York Times in 2010 that Coulson encouraged him and other reporters to hack into the voice-mail accounts of public figures, was found dead, according to the British Press Association.

Police in the county of Hertfordshire confirmed that a man's body was found and "pronounced dead at the scene shortly after." The death is "being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious," the department said in a written statement, which did not name the man.

The scandal simmered for years, but exploded this month with revelations that journalists working for News of the World had eavesdropped on the phone of a missing girl, Milly Dowler, and deleted some of her messages to make room for more. She was later found dead.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson resigned Sunday and Assistant Commissioner John Yates quit Monday after being caught up in the scandal.

Yates ruled two years ago that there was no reason to pursue an investigation into phone hacking by journalists. He has since called his decision "crap."

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He was due to be suspended when he quit, the Metropolitan Police Authority said. He denied Monday he had done anything wrong, saying in a prepared statement that he feared the scandal and allegations against him would be a distraction as London prepares to host the 2012 summer Olympics. His main responsibility was counter-terrorism.

Stephenson stepped down after revelations a former News of the World executive editor, Neil Wallis, was hired as a communications consultant for the police. He also denied wrongdoing.

News Corporation itself got hacked late Monday, when the hacker group LulzSec claimed credit for targeting The Sun, one of the British papers under the conglomerate's media umbrella. It redirected those on the paper's website to a false story claiming Murdoch had been found dead in his garden.
Soon after that link was taken down, those going to the Sun's website were redirected to LulzSec's Twitter page.

Police in the United Kingdom have identified almost 4,000 potential targets of phone hacking in documents recovered from a private investigator working for News of the World.

Phone hacking involves calling a phone from two other phones at the same time, sending one caller to voice mail. That caller then enters the code number to retrieve voice mail remotely. Hackers depend on the fact that many people never change the default PIN for voice mail retrieval.

Journalists are also accused of getting information by phoning and pretending to be someone else, which British reporters call "blagging."

The FBI is also investigating News Corporation after a report that employees or associates may have tried to hack into phone conversations and voice mail of September 11 survivors, victims and their families.
Murdoch's News Corp. encompasses Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and Harper Collins publishers in the United States. News International -- a British subsidiary of News Corp. -- owns the Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times in Britain.

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