In Britain, being “called to the bar” isn’t nearly as fun as it sounds. A long-awaited Parliamentary report on the phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed Rupert Murdoch’s British media empire is scheduled for release Tuesday morning (London time), and has already begun to leak. The Guardian and ITV report that three former Murdoch employees, including Colin Myler, current editor of the New York Daily News, and former editor of Murdoch’s News of the World, will be found guilty of misleading the House of Commons select committee on culture, media, and sport. According to the Guardian, “individuals found guilty of misleading parliament can be called to the bar of the Commons to apologize” — a rebuke that by some accounts has not occurred since the fifties.
So far, Myler has mostly managed to distance himself from the goings-on back in London. He took over as editor of the Daily News in January and, since then, neither he nor the Daily News’ owner Mort Zuckerman has commented on the scandal. That silence has helped keep Myler out of the headlines – in part because neither the Daily News nor Murdoch’s New York Post has covered it. But Myler may find it increasingly difficult to stay out of the spotlight, especially if the Parliamentary report is followed by a public rebuke.
The news reports did not signal which testimony the committee found misleading; the other executives named are News of the World lawyer Tom Crone, and longtime News Corp. executive Les Hinton. But as reported by New York, Myler has acknowledged that he was “disingenuous” in defending the News Corp. line – that phone hacking was the work of one rogue reporter – even after he’d come to the conclusion that it couldn’t be true. Myler has suggested the he was following orders that emanated from his boss, James Murdoch, and Murdoch turned around and accused Myler of concealing essential information about the scandal. Then last week, Rupert piled on, all but accusing Myler and Crone of masterminding a phone-hacking cover-up.
ITV and the Guardian said that the committee came to no conclusion on whether James misled the committee, though they agreed that the committee will report that James didn’t vigorously investigate the scandal. For the Murdochs, the stakes are large. They would like to purchase BskyB, the giant British TV station, a deal that has been on pause since the phone-hacking scandal gained critical mass. A parliamentary rebuke of senior executives certainly won’t help.