Murdoch Brooks Ian Nicholson/PA

Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks leave his London flat yesterday. Ian Nicholson/PA

News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch has been asked to appear before MPs to answer questions about phone hacking, along with the chairman of News International James Murdoch and its chief executive Rebekah Brooks.

A spokesperson for the culture, media and sport select committee confirmed that formal requests had been sent to the three this afternoon and the committee was awaiting a response.

Murdoch and Brooks are free to decline the invitation, but the select committee does have the power to compel witnesses. The committee spokesperson said it was a "long way off" doing summoning them to appear at this stage.

A statement from News International indicated that it would cooperate with the request: "We have been made aware of the request from the CMS committee to interview senior executives and will cooperate. We await the formal invitation."

Neither Murdoch nor his son James have been invited to appear before a parliamentary committee before. Brooks, who was editor of the News of the World between 2000 and 2003, was invited by the committee in July 2009, but declined to attend.

The most recent and final News of the World editor Colin Myler agreed to appear before the committee in July 2009, and claimed there was "no evidence" that the phone-hacking scandal involved anyone other than the newspaper's royal editor Clive Goodman, who was jailed in 2007.

Brooks agreed to an invitation to appear before the home affairs select committee in 2003, where she seemingly admitted that News International had paid police officers for information.

She told the committee: "We have paid the police for information in the past." When asked if the news organisation would do it again in future, she said: "it depends"

When questioned by MP Keith Vaz about the apparent admission in April, Brooks said that she had been responding "to a specific line of questioning on how newspapers get information".

"My intention was simply to comment generally on the widely held belief that payments had been made in the past to police officers.

"If, in doing so, I gave the impression that I had knowledge of any specific cases, I can assure you that this was not my intention."

News International reiterated in a recent statement that Brooks had no knowledge of payments made to police officers.

The home affairs committee invited four senior Metropolitan police officers to give evidence following the recent revelations in the phone-hacking scandal. Assistant commissioner John Yates appeared first this morning and faced repeated questions about whether his position in the Met remained tenable after its failed investigation.

Yates was told that the committee regarded his evidence as "unconvincing" and that he "should not regard this as the end of the matter".

Former assistant commissioner Andy Hayman and the current head of the Met's phone hacking investigation, Sue Akers, also appeared before the committee today.

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