David Prosser: News Corp should waive its right to vote at Sky agm

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Outlook Now James Murdoch has faced MPs for a second time, his next major test comes at the annual general meeting of BSkyB later this month, when shareholders must give their verdict on whether he should remain the company's chairman. Yesterday's hearing has not changed the answer to that question: Mr Murdoch should stand down.

Those who listened to the testimony Mr Murdoch gave the Culture Select Committee will have to decide for themselves which account they accept. Mr Murdoch insisted his former head of legal Tom Crone had previously misled MPs by claiming to have told him about the widespread nature of the illegal activities at the company. They can't both be telling the truth.

Still, even those who accept Mr Murdoch's word for what happened should not be happy to see him continue in his role at Sky. One would then conclude that his efforts to get to the bottom of what happened at the News of the World fell far short of what was required. And given the huge payout he was asked to authorise for the boss of the Professional Footballers' Association, he had every reason to investigate properly.

It is as simple as this: even if youaccept Mr Murdoch has not been dishonest, you cannot conclude that he has been competent.

Will Sky give Mr Murdoch the boot? Almost certainly not, because its biggest shareholder, with 39 per cent of the company, is News Corp. Here's a thought though. To demonstrate its confidence in Mr Murdoch, what about News Corp abstaining at the agm, in order to leave the voting on his chairmanship to independent shareholders? If Mr Murdoch is really the best man for the job, they will no doubt back him.