Suffolk MP talks of her role in grilling Murdoch and Brooks

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey found herself at the heart of the News International storm yesterday.

As a member of the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee, she was given an opportunity to very publicly grill the Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks on behalf of the nation.

Last night Dr Coffey, who had insisted she would use the hearing to shed light on the phone-hacking scandal and not simply to turn the heat onto News Corp executives, said: 'We covered a lot of ground. I appreciate the questions might not have gone as deep as some people had hoped, but it's important that we get as much background as we can.

'I think of the most interesting things to come out was Rupert Murdoch seemingly not being given information as it went up the chain. He appeared unaware on a number of matters.

'I think Rebekah Brooks was very adamant that she did not know about certain matters, including phone hacking case around Milly Dowler's voicemail. 'Overall, they responded well and there were very few questions that they could not or would not attempt to answer.

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'It was a good start.'

Dr Coffey, who worked in the BBC's property finance department before becoming an MP last year, asked specifically about News International's out of court settlements - huge sums of money some claim were paid to keep celebrities quiet over alleged phone hacking.

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She asked James Murdoch about payments to former footballer Gordon Taylor – a question which eventually led Murdoch Sr to tell the committee he knew nothing about the �700,000 settlement until it was publicised by other media.

Questioning Brooks, Dr Coffey suggested that a New of the World story detailing messages left of Milly Dowler's mobile phone might have raise suspicions about illegal hacking.

In response, Brooks said that while the use of private investigators had been common practice on Fleet Street, she had not sanctioned payments and hacking was never endorsed during her editorship at the News of the World.

'There was a lot of information to take in,' said Dr Coffey, 'and some excitement half way through.'

'Everyone is appalled at how that attack happened. If that young man wanted to make a point by acting that way he is sadly mistaken. I expect he'll end up with a criminal record.'

Dr Coffey said the committee will now halt their enquiry and will not be calling more witnesses until the police investigation into criminality at News International is complete.

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