Powerful US Senator wants to know more about the Murdoch empire's UK crimes

In the wake of a UK Parliamentary committee report that described Rupert Murdoch as "not fit" to run a major corporation, a powerful US senator has reached out to the judge presiding over an inquiry into the British "phone hacking" scandal to discover whether Murdoch and his empire violated US law, too. Jay Rockefeller, chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, has asked Lord Justice Levenson "whether any of the evidence you are reviewing suggests that these unethical and sometimes illegal business practices occurred in the United States or involved US citizens." Rockefeller's committee oversees the FCC, which regulates broadcast licenses in the USA. The Guardian's Ed Pilkington and Lisa O'Carroll report:

In a scathing attack on the Murdoch company, Rockefeller writes: "In a democratic society, members of the media have the freedom to aggressively probe their government's activities and expose wrongdoing. But, like all other citizens, they also have a duty to obey the law.

"Evidence that is already in the public record clearly shows that for many years, News International had a widespread, institutional disregard for these laws."

Rockefeller also asks for details emerging from the Leveson inquiry that indicated whether any News Corp executives based in New York were aware of illegal payments made by News of the World to British police and other public officials. "I would be very concerned if evidence emerged suggesting that News Corporation officials in New York were also aware of these illegal payments and did not act to stop them."

Murdoch facing new challenge as US senator contacts Leveson over hacking