More trouble in the offing for Murdoch as new case to open in US

There is more trouble for Rupert Murdoch's global empire with new legal action in the US over alleged illegal practices by News Corp journalists. The lawyer at the centre of the phone-hacking row in the UK, Mark Lewis, who played a pivotal role in exposing the scale of illegal voicemail accessing at the News of the World, is in "advanced stages" of bringing his first case against News Corp on the other side of the Atlantic.

The news comes as Murdoch is set to fly to London following a series of arrests of senior Sun journalists.

The prospect of Lewis supervising legal action in the US would do little to reassure the embattled board of News Corp that a new front on illegal practices was about to open in their own backyard. US authorities, including the FBI, are fast-tracking their own inquiries into the Murdoch media empire over alleged violations of US law on corrupt payments to foreign officials.

With the arrest of five more senior Sun journalists over the weekend on suspicion of corruption and conspiracy in addition to the four former and current Sun employees arrested last month, News Corp chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch's visit to the UK was already being dscribed as "five-star crisis management" with the future of The Sun on the line.

According The Independent newspaper citing unnamed sources 'close to Lewis's legal team', said key meetings would take place in New York in the next few weeks. The US investigators had so far found little evidence to support allegations that News Corp journalists illegally accessed the voicemails of 9 / 11 victims or their families in the US, but the FBI was strongly focused on allegations of bribery and illegal payments made by employees of News Corp.

In an email sent to News International staff over the weekend, chief executive Tom Mockridge stressed that News Corp had "empowered" an independent body, the management and standards committee (MSC), to extend full cooperation to the police.