James Murdoch 'knows nothing'

James Murdoch

If James Murdoch's reputation took a further battering today, it was because he was forced to apologise for and deny knowledge of yet more wrong doing - including the covert surveillance of members of the select committee and of lawyers who represent victims of phone hacking by the News of the World.

It is never exactly good for chairmen or chief executives of big businesses to admit that serious malpractices have taken place in their organisations without their knowledge.

But of course if incontrovertible evidence were ever found that Mr Murdoch knew of or authorised the wrongdoing, well that would be a career-ending moment or worse.

Right now Mr Murdoch's immediate prospects depend to a large extent on who the MPs on the select committee choose to believe about one central issue, whether or not at a meeting in June 2008 he was made aware of the contents of a notorious email, the so-called "For Neville" email, which showed that phone hacking was more widespread at the News of the World than its owner, News International, was admitting.

Mr Murdoch insists he neither saw the email nor understood its significance. That's contradicted, in a variety of ways, by three former News International employees, Tom Crone, Colin Myler and Neville Thurlbeck.

The new material on this today was an account by Tom Watson, the Labour Party's deputy chairman, of a recent conversation with Mr Neville Thurlbeck, former chief reporter of the News of the World, in which Mr Thurlbeck said that he had been assured by Tom Crone that Mr Murdoch had seen the "For Neville" email.

James Murdoch denied (again) that this was the case.

Mr Murdoch insisted - on being asked by another Labour MP Paul Farrelly - that the debacle at the News of the World does not undermine his competence as an executive at News Corporation, parent company of News International.

But he also has another job, as chairman of British Sky Broadcasting, the TV giant in which News Corp has a 39% stake.

Later this month shareholders of BSkyB will vote on whether Mr Murdoch should stay as chairman.

Since News Corp is not an independent shareholder, Sky's non-execs are likely to turf him out if somewhere around a half of the other shareholders vote for him to go.

Will that happen? Impossible to say - but I understand BSkyB believes there won't be a shareholder rebellion on that scale (although a sizeable number of shareholders will vote against Mr Murdoch).

That said, there was probably little that emerged from today's select committee hearing to change the minds either of Mr Murdoch's supporters or his critics.

Robert Peston, economics editor Article written by Robert Peston Robert Peston Economics editor

The growing threat to our recovery

The world looks more volatile and scarier than for many years. That will dampen our economic recovery - though that may be the least of our worries.

Read full article

More on This Story


Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    There are parallels with the NOTW scandal and UBS rogue trader scandal: http://tinyurl.com/6yl4xgb. Journalists are expected to come up with scoop after scoop.Editors don't ask-they don't want to know. But stop performing,they're out!Blame the"rogue"even though it's clear to everyone that the royal affairs editor would be very unlikely to be hacking the phone of football union boss Gordon Taylor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I smell, I smell......

    Really - Louise Mensch is supposed to be legally trained? - Don't make me laugh, she couldn't crack a walnut at christmas.

    I would have got the truth out of (James) Murdoch in less than 5 minutes - these clowns of Government are failures in real life.

    James is the weakest link - and they couldn't even break him.

    Truly pathetic - no wonder we need judge led enquiries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Dear writingsstillonthewall - I've just bought a Louise Mensch nutcracker and it works very well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Mrs May been letting non-EU undesirables into the country again?

    Surely there's enough evidence to arrest James on, now that News Int no longer controls the Met?

    Put James in the Tower, and demand a couple of billion from dad. Or just sequestrate his BSkyB shares as partial compensation for crimes committed under the name of NewsCorp that no-one knew about.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I don't think many people are very interested in this now Robert. Most of the public decided a long time ago that Murdoch minor was a - well it will only get modded if I say it, but you get my drift.

    Anything else happening in the world of finance at the moment?


Comments 5 of 94


This entry is now closed for comments


  • RihannaCloud caution

    After celebrity leaks, what can you do to safeguard your photos?

  • Cesc FabregasFair price?

    Have some football clubs overpaid for their new players?

  • Woman and hairdryerBlow back

    Would banning high-power appliances actually save energy?

  • Rack of lambFavourite feast

    Is the UK unusually fond of lamb and potatoes?

  • Members of staff at James Stevenson Flags hold a Union Jack and Saltire flag UK minus Scotland

    Does the rest of the UK care if the Scots become independent?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.