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U.K. Lawmaker Watson Will Try to Speak at News Corp. AGM

By Robert Hutton
October 19, 2011 8:49 AM EDT

Tom Watson, the U.K. lawmaker who has led attacks against News Corp. (NWSA)’s British newspapers over phone hacking, will travel to Los Angeles to try to speak at the company’s annual general meeting on Oct. 21.

Watson caused laughter at the start of a hearing of Parliament’s Culture Committee in London today when he announced he had bought shares in News Corp. that would allow him to address the AGM. The panel was taking testimony from lawyers involved in hacking cases.

“I want to make sure the shareholders are fully informed about the things their company is doing in the U.K.,” Watson, a member of the opposition Labour Party, said in an interview after the hearing. “For an organization that believes in freedom of speech, it would be pretty extraordinary if they tried to stop me being heard.”

Since the revelation in July that the company’s News of the World tabloid had hacked the phone of a murdered schoolgirl, Milly Dowler, the newspaper has been closed, executives have resigned and a series of investigations have been launched. News Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch called it “the most humble day of my life” when he appeared before the Culture Committee in July to apologize for the affair.

Watson has used his seat on the Culture Committee to pursue News Corp. over hacking since 2009. In July, it was he who told Parliament about the hacking of Dowler’s phone. He has been rewarded for his campaigning with promotion by Labour leader Ed Miliband, who has put him in charge of election strategy.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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