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Murdoch "not a fit person" to run Sky - MPs

A House of Commons committee says News International and the News of the World misled it over the phone-hacking scandal.

Rupert Murdoch was
Rupert Murdoch was "not a fit person" to run a major international media company, according to the report of an all-party committee of MPs.
Image: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

RUPERT MURDOCH is “not a fit person” to run a major international media company like British Sky Broadcasting, an all-party committee of MPs has found.

The House of Commons’ committee on Culture, Media and Sport also says it was misled by the News of the World and its publisher News International, as well as the latter’s executives, in its inquiries into the phone-hacking affair.

The report singles out former NotW editor Colin Myler, longtime Murdoch executive Les Hinton, and its legal manager Tom Crone for particular criticism, arguing that the three men’s instinct was “to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing and discipline the perpetrators, as they also professed they would do after the criminal convictions”.

It adds:

In failing to investigate properly, and by ignoring evidence of widespread wrongdoing, News International  and its parent News Corporation exhibited wilful blindness, for which the companies’ directors — including Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch — should ultimately be prepared to take responsibility.

It also argued that some of the figures it criticised had been scapegoated by News Corporation, the parent company in the Murdoch empire.

Far from having an epiphany at the end of 2010, the truth, we believe, is that by spring 2011, because of the civil actions, the company finally realised that its containment approach had failed, and that a ‘one rogue reporter’ – or even ‘two rogue journalists’—stance no longer had any shred of credibility.

Since then, News Corporation’s strategy has been to lay the blame on certain individuals, particularly Colin Myler, Tom Crone and Jonathan Chapman, and lawyers, whilst striving to protect more senior figures, notably James Murdoch. [...]

Even if there were a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ culture at News International, the whole affair demonstrates huge failings of corporate governance at the company and its parent, News Corporation.

There was some disagreement among MPs about the substance of the report, however, with the press conference at which the report was presented marred by open disagreements between members of the committee.

Labour MP Tom Watson, a noted critic of the Murdoch family’s control of the media, openly questioned the soundness of criminal convictions made in Scotland as a result of newspaper reporting – causing Tory chairman John Whittingdale to distance himself from Watson’s remarks.

Another Conservative MP Louise Mensch accused Labour of acting in a partisan way in the drafting of the report, saying Labour had voted en bloc on amendments to the committee, something the Conservatives had not done.

Mensch warned that the report would therefore be seen as partisan, and that it would lose its credibility as a result.

Four Conservative MPs voted against ratifying the final report, with five Labour MPs and the sole Liberal Democrat member voting to approve it. The report now goes forward to the full House of Commons for ratification.

In a statement, News Corporation said it was “carefully reviewing the Select Committee’s report and will respond shortly”.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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