LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday said James Murdoch, scion of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, should be recalled by parliament to address allegations he misled lawmakers in his testimony on Britain’s phone hacking.
Further upping the pressure on Murdoch, 38, an opposition lawmaker called for a police investigation into whether Murdoch lied.
At issue is whether News Corp. executives knew of the widespread practice of phone-hacking at their now defunct News of the World tabloid — which illegally accessed the phones of thousands of British citizens — and whether the executives tried to cover it up.
In another development, U.S. Justice Department prosecutors are preparing subpoenas as part of their inquiry into allegations that News Corp. employees sought to hack into the phones of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and tried to bribe law enforcement officers for information, people familiar with the matter said Friday. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is not public.
The subpoenas would seek information from the company related to the phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed Rupert Murdoch’s British media operations, the people said. Murdoch is chairman and chief executive of News Corp., which is based in New York and has extensive U.S. operations.
It is unclear if or when subpoenas will be issued and specifically what information they would seek. The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by News Corp., first reported on the preparation of the subpoenas and said they still require approval by senior Justice Department officials.
On Tuesday, while testifying beside his father before a British select committee, James Murdoch denied having ever seen a key piece of evidence in the case that emerged in 2008 — an email suggesting phone hacking went as high as the tabloid’s chief correspondent.
But after two former News Corp. executives cast doubt on his assertion — saying they personally had shown the younger Murdoch the email in question — several British lawmakers insisted he should be recalled to address the discrepancy.
On Friday, Cameron, who himself is under pressure for his close ties to News Corp. executives arrested over phone hacking scandal, echoed those calls.
“Clearly James Murdoch has got questions to answer in parliament, and I’m sure that he will do that,” Cameron said. “News International has got some big issues to deal with and a mess to clear up.”
But Murdoch, in a statement, said, “I stand behind my testimony to the select committee.” News Corp. officials would not comment further, declining to say whether the younger Murdoch would agree to reappear before parliament.