Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Phone hacking: Murdoch rejects blame

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch has said he cannot be held responsible for the scandal at the News of the World, saying he was let down by "people I trusted".
The News Corp boss said he was not aware of the extent of phone hacking there and had "clearly" been misled by some of his staff.
His son, James, apologised to victims, saying hacking was "inexcusable".
Two hours into the hearing, a man tried to throw a foam pie at Rupert Murdoch and proceedings were briefly suspended.
The protester appeared to lunge towards the News Corp chairman and chief executive but was fought off by a group of people, including Mr Murdoch's wife, Wendi.
A man has reportedly been detained by police.
Rupert Murdoch's appearance before the Commons media committee is the first time he has faced direct scrutiny by MPs during his 40-year UK media career.
He said he was "humbled" to have to explain his firm's conduct to MPs.
Faced with a series of questions from Labour MP Tom Watson, Mr Murdoch paused extensively and his son James made several attempts to intervene.
However, Mr Watson made clear that he wanted to hear answers from the father and not the son.
He added: "Your father is responsible for corporate governance, and serious wrongdoing has been brought about in the company.
"It is revealing in itself what he does not know and what executives chose not to tell him."
Rupert Murdoch said his questioning by MPs - who are investigating alleged criminal behaviour at the News of the World and the extent of what senior executives knew - was the "most humble day of my life".
The News Corp boss said he was not aware of the extent of phone hacking at the company until earlier this year when it handed over new information to the police - triggering a new inquiry.
"I was absolutely shocked, appalled and ashamed when I heard about the Milly Dowler case two weeks ago," he told MPs.
Arguing that he ran a global business of 53,000 people and the paper was "just 1%" of this, he said he was not ultimately responsible for what went on at the News of the World.
Asked who was responsible, he said: "The people I trusted to run it and maybe the people they trusted".
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Murdoch's 'shock' at News International paying some of Glenn Mulcaire's legal fees
Mr Murdoch said he was focused on his US newspaper interests and that he had "perhaps lost sight" of what was going on at the paper, saying he spoke to the editor "very seldom".
James Murdoch, chairman of News International, said the firm failed to live up to "the standards they aspired to" and was "determined to put things right and make sure they do not happen again".
He added: "I would like to say just how sorry I am and how sorry we are to particularly the victims of illegal voicemail interceptions and to their families."
Legal fees
Rupert Murdoch said he had not been made aware by News International management of out-of-court settlements made to a handful of victims of hacking.
James Murdoch said he was "surprised and shocked" to learn that News International had still been paying the legal fees of Glenn Mulcaire - the private investigator jailed for phone hacking in 2006 - while his father said he would like to end this arrangement.
Asked by MPs about the closure of the News of the World, Rupert Murdoch said this was necessary since it had "lost the trust" of the people after recent allegations and was not done for commercial reasons.
One of the reasons he had been forced to withdraw his bid to take full control of BSkyB, he added, was that its competitors had "caught us with dirty hands and created hysteria".
On his relationships with senior British politicians, he said he had been asked to No 10 "for a cup of tea" by David Cameron shortly after he entered Downing Street as a recognition of his support for the Conservatives before the election.
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Rupert Murdoch 'often entered Downing St by back door'
He said he had been asked to enter Downing Street by the back door - both by Mr Cameron and former prime minister Gordon Brown - because it would attract less attention.
Tory MP Louise Mensch asked whether - as "captain of the ship" - Rupert Murdoch would resign.
"No, because I feel that the people I trusted, I don't know at what level, let me down and I think they behaved disgracefully, betrayed the company and me and it's for them to pay," he replied.
"I think that frankly I'm the best person to clear this up."
In a closing statement, Rupert Murdoch said he had made his "share of mistakes" but at no time had he felt as "sickened" as when he found out what the Dowler family had been through.
He said he would work tirelessly to win the forgiveness of phone-hacking victims and had great respect for the people of Britain.
It was his understanding, he said, that when two men went to prison in 2007, he thought the situation had been resolved.

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