Rupert Murdoch 'not a fit person' to lead News Corp - MPs

 

The MPs were "misled repeatedly", says chairman John Whittingdale

Rupert Murdoch "is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company", MPs have said.

The culture committee questioned journalists and bosses at the now-closed News of the World, as well as police and lawyers for hacking victims.

Its report has concluded that Mr Murdoch exhibited "wilful blindness" to what was going on in News Corporation.

But the committee was split six to four with Tory members refusing to endorse the report and branding it "partisan".

Conservative Louise Mensch called it "a real great shame" that the report's credibility had potentially been "damaged" as a result, with the report carried by Labour and Lib Dem members backing it.

News Corp said in a statement it was "carefully reviewing" the report and would "respond shortly", adding: "The company fully acknowledges significant wrongdoing at News of the World and apologises to everyone whose privacy was invaded."

The committee itself does not have the power to impose sanctions, but it raised the possibility of a vote in the House of Commons about whether witnesses had been in contempt of Parliament - and if so, whether those witnesses should be forced to apologise in Parliament.

Start Quote

It will give ammunition to those News Corporation shareholders who would like to loosen the hold over the company of the Murdoch dynasty”

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The BBC News Channel's chief political correspondent Norman Smith said the report was much more damning than had been anticipated and directly questioned the integrity and honesty of Rupert Murdoch.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said it would push Ofcom, the media regulator, closer to the conclusion that BSkyB - 39% owned by News Corp - is not fit and proper to hold a broadcasting licence.

Reacting to the report, an Ofcom spokesman said it was "continuing to assess the evidence - including the new and emerging evidence" that may assist it in ruling on that issue.

'A blind eye'

The committee of MPs began its inquiry in July 2011 in the wake of fresh revelations about the extent of hacking at the tabloid newspaper, with reported victims including the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and the families of victims of the 7/7 London bombings.

It heard evidence from Mr Murdoch and his son James, and has now concluded that the notion that a hands-on proprietor like Rupert Murdoch had "no inkling" that wrongdoing was widespread at the News of the World was "simply not credible".

It noted that the newspaper mogul had "excellent powers of recall and grasp of detail when it suited him", and added: "On the basis of the facts and evidence before the committee, we conclude that, if at all relevant times Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone hacking, he turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications."

Tory MPs objected specifically to the line branding Mr Murdoch "not fit", with one, Philip Davies, telling a press conference the committee had seen "absolutely no evidence" to endorse such a "completely ludicrous" conclusion.

But Labour MP Tom Watson said "more than any individual alive", Mr Murdoch was to blame for phone hacking, and it was right to "raise the bar" of the report and make that clear.

The committee also criticised three former News International executives - one-time executive chairman Les Hinton, former News of the World editor Colin Myler and former legal manager Tom Crone - accusing them of giving misleading evidence.

Mr Myler, who is now editor of the New York Daily News, said he had "always sought to be accurate and consistent" when speaking to the committee and stood by his evidence.

Mr Hinton said the allegations against him were "unfounded, unfair and erroneous".

Mr Crone said he accepted there were "valid criticisms of my conduct in this matter", but he was "the subject of serious allegations which lack foundation".

Foam attack

News Corp as a whole was guilty of "huge failings of corporate governance" and, throughout, its instinct had been "to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing and discipline the perpetrators", the committee said.

Phone-hacking probes

  • Leveson Inquiry - judicial probe into press standards, investigating the extent of unlawful or improper conduct at News International and other newspaper groups. It will also examine the original police probe into phone hacking
  • Operation Weeting - police investigation into alleged phone-hacking at News of the World
  • Operation Elveden - police investigation into inappropriate payments to officers
  • Operation Tuleta - police investigation into allegations of computer hacking
  • Civil action by alleged hacking victims. Thousands of potential victims identified and several, including singer Charlotte Church, already awarded damages

And it concluded: "Corporately, the News of the World and News International misled the committee about the true nature and extent of the internal investigations they professed to have carried out in relation to phone hacking; by making statements they would have known were not fully truthful; and by failing to disclose documents which would have helped expose the truth."

James Murdoch told the committee last summer that he did not see an email which suggested that hacking was more widespread at the paper than previously acknowledged - a claim disputed by Mr Myler and Mr Crone in their evidence.

On that matter, the report concluded that James Murdoch was "consistent" in relation to the so-called "For Neville" email, but he had demonstrated "wilful ignorance" about what had been going on, which "clearly raises questions of competence" on his part.

James Murdoch has insisted he did not know about any wrongdoing at the News of the World, but took "his share" of responsibility for not uncovering it earlier.

He gave evidence alongside his father Rupert, who at one point during the hearing was attacked by a man who rushed forward from the public gallery and threw a paper plate of foam at him.

James and Rupert Murdoch James and Rupert Murdoch appeared before the media committee last July

The committee also said former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks must "accept responsibility" for presiding over a culture at the News of the World that led to journalists impersonating members of Milly Dowler's family and hacking the teenager's phone.

And it criticised Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer and former Acting Deputy Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police John Yates for failing to ensure hacking claims were properly investigated.

After initially claiming malpractice was limited to one "rogue" reporter at the News of the World, News International has now settled dozens of civil cases admitting liability for hacking between 2001 and 2006.

More than 6,000 possible victims have been identified and the police have so far made a number of arrests in connection with an investigation reopened in January 2011 - although no charges have yet been brought.

Asked whether David Cameron regarded Rupert Murdoch as a fit person to run a media company, his official spokesman said: "That is a matter for the regulatory authorities, not for the government."

Labour leader Ed Miliband and Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg both said Ofcom must now be allowed to come to its own conclusion.

The hacking revelations led to the closure of the News of the World and the government's decision to set up a judicial inquiry into press standards headed by Lord Leveson.

Appearing before the Leveson Inquiry last week, Rupert Murdoch said there had been a "cover-up" which "shielded" senior figures at the paper and its parent company - including himself and his son James - from knowledge of wrongdoing taking place.

 

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 1247.

    That,s rich coming from mps who have always got their nose in the trougth when it comes to the public purse. And they say murdoch is not fit to run his company what about all the mps i would not employ them as street cleaner because they are so dirty and sleasy

  • rate this
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    Comment number 1246.

    prior to listening to the hysteria on 5 live, Id never heard of Tom Watson however my guess was correct. On hearing his partisan, emotive and motherhood laden summary, I guessed he might not ever had a job and I was correct. How can he deduce that RM is not fit to run a corp? He built it from scratch and created thousands of jobs! He is a wealth creator not a tax payer employee ala this mp and bbc

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1245.

    It is amazing that by quoting from parliament's report and saying that Murdoch claims there is a cover up, the moderators censor.

    Just who do they think they are protecting and more importantly WHY?

    If simply repeating what Murdoch or a parliamentary committee have said is censored, what's the point of the BBC censoring reasonably fair comment?

    Time to act sensibly Mods?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1244.

    I hope that News Corporation takes note. Murdoch had no control of what was going on his organisation. So at 81 it seems like he is past it and time to retire.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1243.

    Is this our Media Spring?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1242.

    The four Tory MPs who refused to support the report are really being disingenuous, allowing their colleagues to take the heat for the Committee's verdict, which was clear to anyone who heard any of the hearings. They really need to have produced a minority report and explain why they feel Rupert Murdoch IS a fit person to lead News Corp.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1241.

    1213.nautonier - "Good of Watson to break the Code of Conduct for MP's by promoting his book for his own profit...."

    You keep saying this yet provide not a single shread of evidence for it - he gave all the info from his book to the Committee & got nothing back from the Committee for his book.... & shooting the messenger AFTER the message has been delivered means the message is already out...

  • Comment number 1240.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1239.

    "1182.bjx65
    Politics aside... it is obvious that the VAST majority of the public abhor what Murdoch and cronies have done and how it is not acceptable. Yet people buy his papers still"

    People sit in their imported car and complain about unemployment. It's the British Way - moan, but don't actually do anything in case one inconveniences oneself.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1238.

    1223.ObiWanBruce

    Absolute spot on and the most observant post so far,, This is why Stan Howard can dance around his maypole with the village idiot in hand. for all to laugh at.. It because only the terminally dim could not see the Agendas.. very good

  • Comment number 1237.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1236.

    Looking at a lot of the posts in here it seems the only people who should be allowed to judge the Murdochs are some kind of paragons of virtue since they are the only ones capable of interpreting the law. Just look at what he is accused of doing and ask yourself - is he guilty or not, never mind about other things thats for another court on another day.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1235.

    1220. stan howard 2MINUTES AGO Every time I read the idiotic right wing defenders of the indefensible, I must confess it makes Me want to jump up and dance with joy.

    Is that because it gives you a day off from being the idiotic left whinger??

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 1234.

    "News Corp as a whole was guilty of "huge failings of corporate governance" and, throughout, its instinct had been "to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing and discipline the perpetrators", the committee said. "
    *****
    If this is so, "huge failings" can also br applied to the last Labour Govt under Browns "corporate governance"
    and what personal punishment did he & his cronies receive ???

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1233.

    218.Nicky

    'There's clear devastating evidence proving beyond any doubt that there was a cover up (Murdoch says) and is guilty of "wilfull blindness" at minimum and probably worse in reality.'

    Let's not forget that there is a possibility of 'plausible denialibility'. I find it rather unconvincing that James Murdoch did not register the significance of the 'for neville' email. He's not stupid.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1232.

    How is Cameron going to get a message to Murdoch that he still stands by him?

    How is Murdoch to get a message to Cameron that he know that this report is not Cameron's doing?

    Who will be the fixer?

    Needs to be someone expendable by both parties.

    Mensch.

    Glory seeker par excellence.

    Lightweight and disposable.
    Like a cheap mac.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1231.

    Is the football going to be any cheaper now?

  • rate this
    -8

    Comment number 1230.

    I think that the MPs who could say that Rupert Murdoch "is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company" are not fit persons to contribute to the administration of Britain.Just to satisfy their arrogance,these people whose achievements are tiny compared to R.M.'s,would put thousands of livelihoods on the line simply to make a cheap political point.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1229.

    It ill behoves MPs to cast doubt on anybody's integrity, particularly in the light of the 'expenses scandal'. People who live in glasshouses should not throw stones.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1228.

    Rupert Murdoch is too good, too honest, too caring, hard working, so! "He is not fit to be boss in United Kingdom” Sir Fred Goodwin would you mind leading News Cooperation? Just make it bankrupt and we will triple your pension. Yeah. That is the kind or the bosses UK need.

 

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