Phone-hacking scandal spreads stateside

Phone-hacking scandal spreads stateside

By Alex Stevenson

A senior US senator has expressed concerns about phone-hacking, in a further sign that Rupert Murdoch is struggling to contain the contagion of scandal.

Jay Rockefeller IV, chairman of the Senate's commerce, science and transportation committee, warned of "severe" consequences if phone-hacking had taken place in the US.

Mr Murdoch's News Corp has substantial holdings in America, including the right-wing Fox News channel, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.

"The reported hacking by News Corporation newspapers against a range of individual - including children - is offensive and a serious breach of journalistic ethics," Mr Rockefeller said in a statement.

"This raises serious questions about whether the company has broken US law, and I encourage the appropriate agencies to investigate to ensure that Americans have not had their privacy violated.

"I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans. If they did, the consequences will be severe."

The Mirror newspaper reported allegations made by a former New York City police officer that reporters at the News of the World tabloid, which closed after its last edition on Sunday, offered money to retrieve phone records of 9/11 victims.

Mr Rockefeller is the first senior Congress figure to express concerns about the phone-hacking scandal.

The Metropolitan police said yesterday that 4,000 people were potential victims of phone-hacking. Only 170 have been notified so far, raising the strong possibility that at least some of the remainder may be US citizens.