13/02/2012 04:05 GMT

Rupert Murdoch Could Face Fresh Legal Action In US From Milly Dowler Lawyer

The solicitor representing the family of Milly Dowler as well as other alleged victims of phone hacking is taking his battle against Rupert Murdoch to America, it has emerged.

Mark Lewis, one of several lawyers representing clients pursuing claims against the News of the World for phone hacking, is expected to travel to the US within the next few weeks to meet with American lawyers about legal action in the country.

Mr Lewis was reported as being in the "advanced stages" of bringing at least one case against Mr Murdoch's company in the US.

Asked about the reports, he said he was "not prepared to deny" them.

The revelation comes after five senior journalists from The Sun were among eight people arrested over allegations of improper payments to police and public officials.

A serving officer in Surrey Police, a Ministry of Defence employee and a serving officer in the Armed Forces were also detained by officers from Operation Elveden.

Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, parent company of News International, which runs The Sun and The Times newspapers, is expected to fly to London to visit staff later this week.

News International chief executive Tom Mockridge emailed employees saying Murdoch had personally reassured him of his "total commitment" to continue to own and publish The Sun.

Operation Elveden - which runs alongside the Met's Operation Weeting team - was launched as the phone-hacking scandal erupted last July with allegations about the now-defunct News of the World targeting Milly's mobile phone.

It has now widened to include suspected corruption involving public officials as well as police officers.

The arrests of deputy editor Geoff Webster, picture editor John Edwards, chief reporter John Kay, chief foreign correspondent Nick Parker, and John Sturgis, who is a news editor, sparked speculation that the red top would go the same way as the News of the World.

They followed the arrests two weeks ago of four current and former Sun employees, as well as a police officer.

All eight people were released on bail.

A leaked memo from Mr Mockridge, chief executive of News International - part of News Corp - to staff said that Mr Murdoch had personally assured him of his "total commitment to continue to own and publish" the paper.

The Sun editor Dominic Mohan said he was shocked by the developments but would focus on putting out today's edition.

But many News International employees were said to be angry that the arrests came as a result of information supplied to police by the company's Management and Standards Committee.

National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: "Journalists are reeling at seeing five more of their colleagues thrown to the wolves in what many sense to be a witch-hunt."

News of legal action spreading to the US will raise further questions of the viability of Mr Murdoch's newspapers.

Last week Steve Coogan and Paul Gascoigne headed a list of phone-hacking damages claims which settled close to trial, part of 54 now-resolved cases out of 60 that were launched against News International subsidiary News Group Newspapers before October last year.

Five remaining cases could not be heard on Wednesday for technical reasons and a sixth - that of singer Charlotte Church, with her parents, James and Maria - will begin at London's High Court on February 27.

The two-week trial before Mr Justice Vos will not just consider Church's claim that 33 articles in the News of the World were the product of hacking into the family's voicemails, but also set out a compensation framework for future cases.

The judge was also told that 56 new claims were in the pipeline - including those of singer James Blunt, soccer star Peter Crouch - and his wife Abigail Clancy, politician Nigel Farage, footballer Kieron Dyer and Eimear Cook - ex-wife of golfer Colin Montgomerie.