Murdochs: Bruised but not broken

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Media captionPhone hacking: 'Humbled' Murdoch rejects blame

The Murdochs' evidence to MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport committee had its moments of drama, but few moments of revelation.

There were elements of both when James Murdoch, the chairman of News International, confirmed that his company has been continuing to pay the legal expenses of Glen Mulcaire, the private detective hired by the News of the World to illegally hack the phones of individuals.

James Murdoch said he was shocked to learn that Mr Mulcaire was still being subsidised by News International, long after he was imprisoned in 2007 for the illegal interception of voicemails.

And because Rupert Murdoch speaks in public only rarely, some will be surprised that his speech was halting and his response to questions was slow.

There are News Corporation investors who believe that at the age of 80, it may be time for Rupert Murdoch to hand over the executive reins of the global media empire he created - and his performance today probably won't dissuade them that the moment for him to name a successor is now.

No chance, said Mr Murdoch.

It was people he trusted who got News Corp into this mess, he insisted. And he is confident he remains the right man to correct the News of the World's sins of the past - sins that went on for years, but which Mr Murdoch did not notice in their enormity till the revelations a fortnight ago that the most vulnerable individuals' phones had been hacked.

After today's hearing, many questions are still unanswered about who committed or ordered the alleged hacking and bribing, and who knew what when - not least of which are the uncertainties over who was aware in early 2007 of the smoking-gun, News-of-the-World emails that were passed to the lawyers Harbottle & Lewis, but not to the police til June 20 this year (see earlier posts for more on this).

That said, the Murdochs will probably be seen to have emerged bruised but not broken by today's ordeal - which is why the share price of News Corporation, the parent company, has risen.

As for James Murdoch, he was probably as polished and relaxed as was possible in the circumstances. Which may persuade the non-executive directors of British Sky Broadcasting, where he is chairman, to wait a while longer before deciding whether he should be asked to stand down.

For the Murdochs, and the tens of thousands of work for their companies, the full ramifications of the scandal won't be known for months if not years, till the results are in of all those investigations, by the judge who was appointed by the prime minister, and by the police.