The FBI has launched an investigation into allegations that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation tried to hack the phones of 9/11 victims, an official has confirmed.
The announcement follows calls from senior politicians in the US for an inquiry as shockwaves from the phone-hacking scandal continue to reverberate.
The FBI field office in Manhattan has confirmed it is looking into the allegations against the company, said Sky’s US correspondent, Greg Milam.
In Washington, Democrat senator, Jay Rockefeller has urged an investigation into whether parent company News Corporation had violated US law because of the British paper’s activities.
The allegation of hacking 9/11 victims comes from the Daily Mirror, which said an American investigator had rejected approaches from journalists who showed a particular interest in British victims of the terror attacks.
It cited no evidence that any phone had actually been hacked by the News Of The World or any other paper.
If there was any phone hacking of Americans “the consequences will be severe”, Mr Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said.
A report in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), which is part of News Corp, said Murdoch met with advisers in recent weeks to discuss possible options, including the sale of his remaining British newspapers.
The WSJ reported that there did not appear to be any buyers, given the poor economics of the newspaper group.
Meanwhile, some members of the Bancroft family that once controlled the WSJ said they would have opposed selling the paper to Murdoch in 2007 had they known about the hacking allegations then.
“I probably would have held out,” Christopher Bancroft said in a story published by the non-profit group ProPublica and The Guardian.
The story was written by a former executive of WSJ publisher Dow Jones & Co.
Meanwhile, politicians in Murdoch’s country of origin are also urging action following the phone-hacking scandal.
Australia’s government will consider a review of national media regulation and laws, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced.
“I’ve truly been disgusted to see it. I anticipate that we will have a discussion amongst parliamentarians about this, about the best review and way of dealing with all of this,” Ms Gillard told Australia’s National Press Club.
The influential Greens Party, which controls the balance of power, has called for Ms Gillard’s government to hold an inquiry into whether a new statutory media watchdog is required, with parliament to consider the issue in August.