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MPs warned not to make phone-hacking comments

Former Downing Street director of communications Andy Coulson will stand trial at the Old Bailey next week. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Politicians at Westminster have been warned not to comment in public on upcoming trials over newspaper phone hacking.

The coming week will see former Downing Street director of communications Andy Coulson and ex-News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks stand trial at the Old Bailey.

The case has been at the centre of political debate for more than two years, but Solicitor General Oliver Heald has acted to counter the risk of commentary prejudicing the proceedings, which are expected to last for several months.

Parliamentary privilege means a politician can theoretically talk about a live case in the House of Commons without fear of prosecution.

Ex-NotW deputy editor 'glad' about Murdoch remarks

Former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis said he is "glad" that Rupert Murdoch "stood by his staff" after hearing secret audio recordings made during a News Corp meeting.

Phone-hacking charges against Mr Wallis were dropped in February this year.

He also replied to a Twitter user who asked whether he thought Murdoch was "really backing the staff":

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Murdoch heard branding police 'totally incompetent'

In one clip from a secret audio recording obtained by Channel 4 News, Rupert Murdoch is heard branding police "totally incompetent" and damning the Scotland Yard inquiry into corrupt payments to public officials.

"It's the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing," he says.

Hear more of the recordings at Channel 4 News.

A News Corp statement said Mr Murdoch was showing "understandable empathy" to his staff.

News Corp: Murdoch showing 'understandable empathy'

Defending Rupert Murdoch's pledge to staff, a spokesman for News Corp told Channel 4 News:

No other company has done as much to identify what went wrong, compensate the victims, and ensure the same mistakes do not happen again.

The unprecedented co-operation granted by News Corp was agreed unanimously by senior management and the board, and the MSC continues to co-operate under the supervision of the courts.

Rupert Murdoch has shown understandable empathy with the staff and families affected and will assume they are innocent until and unless proven guilty.

– News Corp

Tom Watson MP calls for police to question Murdoch

An MP has called for police action after Rupert Murdoch was apparently recorded telling journalists he regretted the level of cooperation over phone-hacking and illegal payments.

Labour MP Tom Watson called for police to question Mr Murdoch over the alleged comments, telling Channel 4 News:

What I would like to know is what are they sitting on that they've not given the police. And I'm sure that this transcript and this audiotape should be in the hands of the police tomorrow because I hope that they're going to be interviewing Rupert Murdoch about what he did know about criminality in his organisation ...

Rupert Murdoch told Parliament one thing and told his staff another. He told Parliament that he was fully co-operating with the police, he told his staff that it was a mistake they were co-operating with the police.

– tom watson mp

Murdoch urges staff to 'trust' him over jail fears

Rupert Murdoch also appears to suggest in the recording, broadcast by Channel 4 News, that any journalists who were convicted and jailed in connection with the phone-hacking inquiry could get their jobs back. He is heard saying:

I will do everything in my power to give you total support, even if you're convicted and get six months or whatever.

You're all innocent until proven guilty. What you're asking is: what happens if some of you are proven guilty? What afterwards?

I'm not allowed to promise you - I will promise you continued health support - but your jobs. I've got to be careful what comes out - but, frankly, I won't say it, but just trust me.

A spokesman for News Corp told Channel 4 News: "Rupert Murdoch has shown understandable empathy with the staff and families affected and will assume they are innocent until and unless proven guilty."

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Murdoch brands police handling of arrests a 'disgrace'

The secret recording, broadcast this evening by Channel 4 News, hears Rupert Murdoch apparently railing at the the way the police behaved in arresting his journalists.

"Still, I mean, it's a disgrace. Here we are, two years later, and the cops are totally incompetent," he is heard saying, adding: "The idea that the cops then started coming after you, kick you out of bed, and your families, at six in the morning, is unbelievable."

He also is heard saying: "But why are the police behaving in this way? It's the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing."

Mr Murdoch is heard adding: "And now they're arresting their own, who never even took money... They're going to put all newspapers out of business."

Murdoch heard condemning police in secret recording

The recording of Rupert Murdoch was reportedly made at The Sun's base in Wapping, east London. Credit: John Stillwell/PA Archive

Rupert Murdoch has been heard condemning police who are investigating alleged phone-hacking and illegal payments to officials by his journalists as "totally incompetent" in a secret recording broadcast by Channel 4 News.

The News Corp boss is heard apparently regretting the amount of information his company had handed over to the investigation - describing it as a "mistake" - while also appearing to tell staff who feared losing their jobs if found guilty of any offences to "trust" him.

The recording, obtained by the Exaro investigative website, was said to have been made in March during a meeting with journalists from The Sun at his newspapers' headquarters in Wapping, east London.

A spokesman for News Corp told Channel 4 News: "No other company has done as much to identify what went wrong, compensate the victims, and ensure the same mistakes do not happen again.

"The unprecedented co-operation granted by News Corp was agreed unanimously by senior management and the board, and (News Corp's management and standards committee) the MSC continues to co-operate under the supervision of the courts.

"Rupert Murdoch has shown understandable empathy with the staff and families affected and will assume they are innocent until and unless proven guilty."

Labour MP felt 'very uneasy' after Sun phone hacking

Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh has given her reaction to accepting "very substantial" damages and a public apology from The Sun after her stolen mobile phone was accessed by the newspaper.

I'm in public life and I don't have a hang-up about my own privacy, but my family and constituents who had contacted me and given personal views were subjected to people seeing it. That made me feel very uneasy.

As an MP, people tell me all sorts of things, people give their personal information and they believe that you will do the right thing with it. That wasn't for anyone's eyes.

I was a government whip, I had lots of phone numbers and had then exposed all those people to having their privacy invaded, and that troubled me.

– Siobhain McDonagh

Phone hacking charges against former NotW journalist dropped

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it has droppws charges against a journalist investigated over phone hacking.

In a statement, the CPS said: "Having carefully considered the matter, the CPS has concluded that there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction in relation to that journalist."

Another journalist remains under investigation.

Former News of the World Deputy Editor Neil Wallis took to Twitter to say that he is the journalist who will not now face charges:

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