Rupert Murdoch and his son James will be questioned again about the phone-hacking scandal that has enveloped their company, but this time it will be under oath in front of a High Court judge. In an inquiry set to focus on “the culture, practices and ethics of the press in the context of the latter’s relationship with the public, police and politicians,” the Murdochs, likely along with alleged co-conspirators Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, and possibly even Prime Minister David Cameron, will be called to testify in October before Lord Justice Leveson. Although it does not come with criminal charges, the inquiry will include courtroom evidence and witnesses, serving as something of an “unofficial trial,” the Telegraph reports. The proceedings will be broadcast live on television; presumably spectators will be searched for shaving cream pies this time.
The High Court proceedings will also include seminars with journalists to discuss the “practice and pressures of investigative journalism,” including law and ethics. Lord Justice Leveson said he hopes to complete the inquiry within twelve months, but stressed that it could very well be longer.
An intensified inquiry is a logical step in a summer of scrutiny for the Murdochs, who appeared before Parliament in July, but largely managed to duck questions, or misstate the truth, about the institutional policies that allowed or even encouraged phone hacking among their reporters. Since the Murdochs’ initial appearance, new evidence has indicated that the dirty journalistic tactic was “widely discussed” by higher-ups at editorial meetings for the now-shuttered News of the World tabloid.
Meanwhile, lawyers for Rupert Murdoch have expanded their own inquiry into the reporting practices at various News International papers, and are now searching for any evidence that the company might have violated U.S. laws. It seems a bit late for that.