After being secretly taped in the offices of The Sun berating the police for being “totally incompetent”, Rupert Murdoch has written to MPs to express regret for having “used the wrong adjectives”.
In his letter to Keith Vaz, chair of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, the media mogul was less than apologetic, criticising Scotland Yard’s investigations into his journalists as being “excessive” and too slow.
“I do question whether, over the last two years, the police have approached these matters with an appropriate sense of proportion, and with regard for the human cost of delay,” he wrote. “While I regret my choice of words in that highly emotional meeting, I care deeply about our employees, and I was am troubled by the effect of these events on them.”
The language was rather different to that used in March when he was secretly taped by a member of his staff, who leaked the recording to the ExaroNews website. “It’s a disgrace,” he told his team. “Here we are, two years later, and the cops are totally incompetent. The idea that the cops then started coming after you, kick you out of bed, and your families, at six in the morning, is unbelievable. But why are the police behaving in this way? It’s the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing.”
In his letter, Mr Murdoch said his company had submitted “a mountain of evidence” to the Metropolitan Police for its investigations into phone hacking, computer hacking and bribery of public officials. It had handed over 23m electronic documents, 500,000 documents and committed 185,000 man hours of assistance at a cost of £65m.
Despite his private comments, he admitted he was in “no position” to assess the competence of the police investigation but his “lay view” was that it was “excessive”.
“I cannot endorse the judgment that the investigation has ‘progressed’ very well,” he said, noting that some of his staff and their families were “still in limbo” having been on police bail since last year.
Mr Vaz noted the comments on the duration of the investigations and said they had cost taxpayers £20.3m. “I welcome Mr Murdoch’s acceptance that he used the wrong words to describe the police investigation and his explanation of why he did so. I am glad that he has confirmed he does not think the police investigations are incompetent.”