News In Depth
Murdoch attacks 'partisan' report
Rupert Murdoch has hit back after MPs branded him "not a fit person" to be in charge of a major media firm.
In a statement, News Corporation condemned the report by the Commons Culture Committee as "unjustified and highly partisan".
The highly contentious investigation into the News of the World phone-hacking scandal split the committee on party lines.
While members agreed unanimously that Mr Murdoch's media empire had misled their inquiry in a "blatant fashion", Tory MPs refused to support the report after Labour and the sole Liberal Democrat pushed through the criticism of Mr Murdoch by a vote of six to four.
Labour MP Tom Watson, who tabled the amendment, said he was disappointed that the Conservatives had been unwilling to support him.
"These people corrupted our country. They brought shame on our police force and our Parliament. They lied, they cheated, blackmailed and bullied and we should all be ashamed when we think how we cowered before them for too long," he said.
Conservative Louise Mensch said Mr Watson's insistence on putting an amendment "wildly outside the scope" of the inquiry had undermined the report's credibility.
"That will mean it will be correctly seen as a partisan report and will have lost a very great deal of its credibility, which is an enormous shame," she said.
Responding to the findings, News Corp admitted that the committee had highlighted "hard truths".
There had been "serious wrongdoing" at the News of the World, the company's response had been "too slow and too defensive", and some employees had misled the MPs in 2009.
"News Corporation regrets, however, that the Select Committee's analysis of the factual record was followed by some commentary that we, and indeed several members of the committee, consider unjustified and highly partisan," the statement went on. "These remarks divided the members along party lines."
The company insisted it had "already confronted and acted on the failings documented in the report". Internal reviews had been conducted at newspapers, evidence volunteered to the authorities, and sweeping changes implemented in internal controls.
"As we move forward, our goal is to make certain that in every corner of the globe, our company acts in a manner of which our 50,000 employees and hundreds of thousands of shareholders can be justly proud," the statement added.
The most contentious amendment, tabled by Mr Watson, said that if Rupert Murdoch was not fully informed about phone hacking, "he turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications".
"This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organisation and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International," it said.
"We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company."
The committee also split over findings that James Murdoch had shown "wilful ignorance" and that after its attempts at containment failed, the company had sought to protect him and other "more senior figures".
As recriminations spilled over into the press conference to launch the report, Mr Watson expressed his disappointment that the Conservatives had been unwilling to support the criticisms of the Murdochs.
Meanwhile Les Hinton, former News International executive chairman and for many years Mr Murdoch's right-hand man, and Colin Myler, the former editor of the News of the World, both denied misleading the committee.
The report said Mr Hinton was "complicit in the cover-up at News International" over evidence he gave in 2009 about payments made to former royal correspondent Clive Goodman, who was jailed in 2007 for phone hacking.
It found that Mr Myler and Tom Crone, the now defunct paper's former legal manager, had given false answers in response to questions about their knowledge over the extent of phone hacking by other staff.
Mr Hinton described the committee's conclusions as "unfounded, unfair and erroneous", while Mr Myler said he stood by his evidence to the committee.
Mr Crone said he does "not accept" the allegations, adding that: "I seem to be the subject of serious allegations which lack foundation."
News Corporation said 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."
Despite the differences on the committee, it did agree - with only one Tory dissenter - it was "simply astonishing" that it took the Murdochs so long to realise the defence that phone hacking at the paper was down to "one rogue reporter" was untrue.
The committee said that despite the professed willingness of News International to assist its inquiries, it had failed to release documents which would have helped expose the truth.
It said the company "repeatedly made misleading and exaggerated claims" regarding the investigations it "purportedly" commissioned following the arrests of Mr Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
"The willingness of News International to sanction huge settlements and damaging wide-ranging admissions to settle civil claims over phone hacking before they reach trial reinforces the conclusion of our 2010 report that the organisation has, above all, wished to buy silence in this affair and to pay to make the problem go away," it said.
The committee strongly criticised payments - totalling £243,502.08 - made by News International to Mr Goodman in the period following his arrest.
"The size of the pay-off serves to confirm our view that it was used to buy Clive Goodman's silence," it said.
It said a letter sent by former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and legal director Jonathan Chapman in November 2009 had referred only to a £40,000 compensation payout, suggesting an attempt to play down the settlement or ignorance of the full facts.
"None of these scenarios casts Rebekah Brooks and Jonathan Chapman in a positive light," the report said.
It said the arrangements which saw News International pay £365,000 to cover Mr Mulcaire's legal costs were "every bit as distasteful" and further evidence of the company's determination "to cover up the extent of the phone-hacking scandal".
It said that Mrs Brooks - who was News of the World editor in 2002 when murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone was hacked - should accept responsibility for those actions "and the culture which permitted them".
what do you think?
Now there's a surprise. The tories voted against the findings of the committee i.e. that Murdoch was incompetent. I wonder why? Do they still fear him? Do they want his grace and favour? Shameful.
Did you actually read the article?
Yes Red John, we did.
I suppose the report simply confirms what most of us were already thinking. Murdocks, News Corp., Tories, Cameron - I cannot find the words ... ... ... !
It really does upset me that the knives are in the backs of the Murdocks, Rupert and James. I have NEVER supported them, but I would rather trust them than ANY politician. Have you all forgotten what a miss this Country was until Wooping? There was Micky Mouse payslips to split up, in the Printing Industry, no new technology because no one had the balls to stop it. Widespread curruption everywhere. THEY STOPPED THAT AND THANK GOD THEY DID. I'm not a fair weather friend like you lot. This Country would be a mess without them, and I've NEVER voted for Thatcher or Blair. WAKE UP OUR FREEDOMS WILL DISAPPEAR.
Give em a bonus
Well i thought he got off lightly,in fact they all have or will, including nothing happened,there all good friends,nothing inappropriate,in hindsight,Mr Cameron,and do me a favour Mr Osbourne.
yes partisan by the conservatives, who worship the rich and powerful.
Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of an international company; so say the majority of a committee of m.p's set up to investigate him. Well I know 650 m.p's who are not fit for purpose and not fit to run this country. They are all liars and cheats who put self interest before country and the well being and wishes of the population.
true but he is an unfit person all the same.
althought he tories agreed in principle with the report they would not give it there full backing because of their fear and loyalty to murdoch.but two other parties ,labour and lib dems voted to say he was unfit.that means it is not a one party line,as two parties agree.therefore it is wrong to descrbe it as partisan.murdoch should go to jail for this.
well said this man is nothing but trouble
I am not defending what Murdock has done but hey This guy did not get where he is now by being stupid or not fit to build and run a business. This chap has built up a large international corporation. It some what makes the commitees coments by a few MP's a bit silly at making such a statement. When I watched and heard it on the news I thought how stupid the statement was. What have these MP's done? At least some of them did not suport such a silly statement so as to not turn the commitee into a joke or has it?
Simple answer - send him back to where he came from. Why should this man have such an influence in this country ? The top and bottom of it is - he is basically a journalist - and we all know what we think of them. Sadly one rung lower than MPs !
Roger W. Patrick
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