Dail Poll July 20

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Do you have any sympathy for Rupert Murdoch?

A PROTESTOR accused of throwing a paper plate of shaving foam at Rupert Murdoch as he gave evidence to MPs has been charged with a public order offence.

An incident happened as the News Corporation boss and his son James appeared before the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee over phone-hacking allegations at the News of the World.

Jonathan May-Bowles, 26, of Edinburgh Gardens, Windsor, is due to appear before City of Westminster Magistrates Court on July 29, charged with behaviour causing harassment, alarm or distress in a public place under Section 5 of the Public Order Act.

During the select committee hearing, Rupert Murdoch told that MPs responsibility for the phone-hacking “fiasco” does not rest with him but the “people that I trusted and then, maybe, the people they trusted”.

In his evidence, James Murdoch admitted News International made payments to phone hackers Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire after they were convicted of the crime.

Goodman, former royal editor at the News of the World, and private investigator Mulcaire, were both jailed in 2007 over royal phone taps.

Mr Murdoch insisted he had been “very surprised” to find that payments had been made towards the legal fees of the pair, but was told it was “customary” and admitted the payments could even be continuing.

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks later said that she was repeatedly told by the News of the World that allegations of phone hacking by the paper’s journalists were untrue.

Appearing before the committee she said it was only after she saw papers lodged in a civil damages case brought by actress Sienna Miller last year that she understood how serious the situation was.

She added: “I think we acted quickly and decisively then, when we had that information.”

At another hearing yesterday, Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson was questioned by the Home Affairs select committee, which includes Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson.

He denied any wrongdoing in the hiring of former News of the World executive Neil Wallis to provide media support to the police force but said he now regretted the appointment.

Mr Wallis was recently arrested as part of the phone-hacking inquiry.

Sir Paul, who quit on Sunday amid criticism of his force’s handling of the phone-hacking saga, told MPs he had not “taken a swipe” in his resignation letter at David Cameron’s decision to employ Andy Coulson - Mr Wallis’ ex-boss - as an aide.