LONDON — James Murdoch insisted to British lawmakers Thursday that he did not mislead them about his role in the phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed News Corp. and rocked Britain’s media, police and political establishments.

A possible heir to the global media empire of his father, Murdoch faced fresh questions at a parliamentary committee hearing on precisely when he discovered the scope of the illicit tactics that led to the closure of the News of the World tabloid in July.

Murdoch defended the version of events he laid out to the committee in July, when he insisted he did not learn of the extent of phone hacking until late last year. But the atmosphere was often hostile.

Tom Watson, a Labor politician and dogged critic of News Corp., told him, “You must be the first mafia boss in history who didn’t know he was running a criminal enterprise.” A stony-faced Murdoch retorted: “Mr. Watson. Please. I think that’s inappropriate.”

Murdoch, who oversees News Corp.’s British operations, News International, directed blame toward Colin Myler, News of the World’s former editor, and Tom Crone, News International’s former legal adviser, suggesting that they failed to inform him of the paper’s widespread involvement in phone hacking. He said that their testimony was “misleading, and I dispute it.”

Crone and Myler issued statements Monday saying they stood by their version of events. Crone said Murdoch’s testimony was at best “disingenuous.”

At the heart of the dispute are events surrounding a decision in 2008 by News of the World to award a hefty out-of-court settlement to Gordon Taylor, a soccer union boss whose phone had been hacked by a private investigator working for News of the World.

Myler and Crone said they had briefed Murdoch before the Taylor settlement about a critical email. The email has become an important part of the saga because it implies that hacking stretched beyond one “rogue reporter,” News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman, who was jailed in 2007.

In his July testimony, Murdoch, 38, said he was not made aware of the “for Neville” email. On Thursday, he said that he had been told of the email but only that it contained transcripts of Taylor’s illegally intercepted voice messages, meaning he was aware of a crime.

But he said he was not made aware that the email was marked “for Neville,” referring to Neville Thurlbek, News of the World’s chief reporter, which would raise suspicion that other journalists were engaging in illegal tactics.

Asked why in 2008 he didn’t question the rogue reporter theory when it would seem odd even to “a 10-year-old” that an editor covering the royal family would be hacking into the phone of a soccer union boss, Murdoch said the details of the case were not “top of mind.”

Murdoch also denied that before the settlement he had seen a letter from Michael Silverleaf, the paper’s legal adviser, who told executives that there was “a powerful case that there is (or was) a culture of illegal information access” at the 168-year-old tabloid.

News of the World’s closure in July followed reports that it had hacked into the phones of murder victims, including a teenage schoolgirl.

The shock waves of the scandal continue to reverberate, with multiple ongoing investigations, including several by police, who have arrested 17 journalists. Last week, officers announced that they had compiled the names of 5,795 people whose phones might have been hacked.