Watson claims that the members of the Commons select committee investigating News International were put under surveillance by a crack squad of News of the World reporters.
Watson says he was told this by the paper's former chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck.
In Thurlbeck's words:
There was an edict that came down from the editor and it was 'find out every single thing you can about every single member; who was gay, who had affairs, anything we can use. Each reporter was given two members and there were six reporters.
11.54am: Watson adds:
I am sorry to say that this tactic was successful, the committee's legitimate investigation was undermined and parliament was, in effect, intimidated. News International thought it could do this, that they would get away with it, that no one could touch them, and they actually did it, and it worked.
Watson adds that as a result of the surveillance the committee members whose private lives had been under investigation decided not to summon Rebekah Brooks to give evidence in 2010.
The threats were delivered to committee members from a conservative MP with ties to Murdoch:
Watson on the intimidation of the select committee.
Although the committee wanted Brooks to give evidence, its members, whose private lives News International had pored over, capitulated and decided not to summons her…
The gay Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price … claimed that the committee's members had been warned that if they had called Brooks, their private lives would be raked over.
He said later: "I was told by a senior Conservative member of the committee, who I knew was in direct contact with executives at News International, that if we went for her, they would go for us - effectively they would delve into our personal lives in order to punish [us].
12.30pm: Watson says an News International "intermediary", who was female, asked him if he would like to meet Rupert Murdoch over a dinner meeting.
She allegedly told him: "He's a charismatic man. He'd want to square off these difficulties and put matters right."
Watson says he was not interested in cutting a deal.
If Murdoch exerted that kind of influence in Britain, you can be sure he exerts a similar influence here in the U.S.
Has Murdoch tried to keep the Obama DOJ from looking too deeply into the phone hacking case in the U.S.?
Remember, News Corporation short-circuited investigations in Britain in both 2006 and 2009 by threatening, intimidating and/or buying politicians and police.
This is an election year in the U.S. The Obama administration, always adverse to controversy that would make for unhappy campers on the right, have been sitting on this investigation for awhile now.
Have they been bought off by Murdoch with a "You don't go too heavy on us, we won't go too heavy on you on FOX News" deal?
Have they been intimdated by the FOXies to drop any serious hacking investigation or FOX News will drop some bombshell on them?
You can bet if Murdoch and News Corporation used threats, intimidation and bribery of politicians and law enforcement officials in Britain, they have done so here as well.
On the local level, Andrew Cuomo - joined at the hip with the NY Post's Fred Dicker - is another suspect in the "Politicians bought by Uncle Rupert" category.
So far, Murdoch and the political establishment in the U.S. have kept this stuff under wraps.
But the shit is hitting the fan in Britain these days for Murdoch and with Mark Lewis planning on bringing civil lawsuits here in the U.S. against News Corp. for phone hacking, it may hit the fan here as well, despite Murdoch's best efforts to keep News Corporation clean here.
And then, even the U.S. politicians trying to keep this scandal under wraps and hide their own moral and ethical failings will have to come clean on just what kind of business they have done with Murdoch and News Corp.