Rupert Murdoch's future hangs in the balance as he prepares to face Commons grilling over phone hacking
Insiders say his performance before MPs will be 'closely scrutinised'
Media mogul could be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey
James Murdoch expected to be asked about £2m 'hush money' payouts
Murdochs due to face politicians at 2.30pm and Rebekah Brooks at 3.30pm
By Richard Hartley-parkinson
Last updated at 11:01 AM on 19th July 2011
Rupert Murdoch’s future as the head of his own media empire was hanging in the balance today as he prepared to be grilled by MPs about the phone hacking scandal that has engulfed his company.
The 80-year-old boss of News Corp and his son James will appear before the Culture, Media and Sport select committee this afternoon.
Insiders at the company – owners of the News of the World which was forced to shut last week - today claimed that a future without Mr Murdoch at the helm was already under discussion.
And they said that much would depend on how he performed before the committee.
News Corp executives who watched Mr Murdoch rehearse for his appearance were said to have concerns about the way in which he handled questions.
Rupert Murdoch pictured leaving his office earlier today ahead of his appearance before MPs
Grilling: James Murdoch will appear alongside his father at 2.30pm while Rebekah Brooks is due at 3.30pm
There is speculation that chief operating officer Chase Carey could be promoted to chief executive officer, the position currently held by Mr Murdoch.
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James Murdoch to face police grilling over 'hush money' to hacking scandal victims
The media tycoon would remain chairman of the company.
In what promises to be one of the most closely scrutinised days Westminster has ever seen, the man who has dominated British media for the last four decades will go before MPs at 2.30pm.
His son will be alongside him. News International's former chief executive officer Rebekah Brooks will be grilled at 3.30pm.
Many of the inquisitors will still be bitter from the expenses scandal and ready to make their mark by highlighting the behaviour of News International that has led to the resignation of high-profile police officers and senior figures within the company.
The key players in the affair will be in the Houses of Commons today to appear before different committees while investigations continue in Watford to discover how News of the World whistle-blower Sean Hoare died.
While the trio from News International will face the Commons Culture Media and Sport Committee, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and Assistant Commissioner John Yates - who quit yesterday after learning he had been suspended - will answer the Home Affairs Committee.
An hour has been set aside for the Murdochs, but that is likely to over run as MPs dig deep to find out why payments of £2million were paid to victims of hacking as 'hush money'.
Legal advice has been given to MPs and it has been discovered that they can go much further than originally anticipated.Mrs Brooks, who was arrested and released on Sunday, is likely to be grilled on how she can claim not knowing about illegal practices that were allegedly taking place in the News of the World news room on an 'industrial scale'.
Rupert Murdoch is not known for his public speaking skills and neither is Mrs Brooks. He is believed to have taken training from media experts who have mocked up the session he will face this afternoon.
Insiders at News Corp - owners of News of the World which was closed last week as the phone hacking scandal intensified - told News of the World that company chiefs were already discussing the firm’s future without Murdoch at the helm.
They said a replacement of Mr Murdoch would depend in part on how performs when he is grilled by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee this afternoon.
Sources said that News Corp executives who watched Murdoch rehearse for his appearance said concerns had been raised about how he handled questions.
Mr Murdoch and his son agreed to appear only after the committee issued summonses ordering them to attend - with the threat of fines or even imprisonment if they failed to turn up.
In a defiant interview last week with the Wall Street Journal, owned by his News Corp group, Rupert Murdoch said he intended to use the hearing to expose some of the 'total lies' issued about his organisation.
Since then, however, he has struck a notably more conciliatory tone - taking out full-page advertisements in rival newspapers to apologise for what had happened.
Their appearance before the committee at 2.30pm in the Wilson Room in Portcullis House, opposite the House of Commons, will be followed by Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of News International - News Corp's UK newspaper publishing arm.
Resigned: Both Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and Assistant Commissioner John Yates will be grilled by the Home Affairs Select Committee
She will now appear separately - about an hour later - having finally resigned on Friday.
She is a key figure having been editor of the News of the World when murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone was hacked in 2002 and having previously told the committee that News International paid police officers.
However her arrest on Sunday by detectives investigating the phone-hacking allegations may complicate the questioning.
The committee has acknowledged that lines of questioning have been prepared 'carefully taking into account legal considerations'.
Before that, along the corridor in the Grimond Room, Sir Paul and Mr Yates along with Scotland Yard's director of public affairs Dick Fedorcio, will give evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Committee.
Even before he announced his resignation yesterday, the committee said it was recalling him, having made clear made it was unhappy with his evidence when he appeared last week.
Tags: international, murdock, brooks, phone, hacking, scandal, police, arrested, london, clarkson,
Location: United Kingdom (UK/GB) (load item map)
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