Elisabeth Murdoch has admitted that she lobbied for her brother James to be demoted at the family's News Corp media empire over his handling of the phone-hacking scandal, a day after she publicly criticised him over his approach to business.
Ms Murdoch told delegates at the Edinburgh International Television Festival that she had lobbied "within closed doors" for James to stand down from his role as executive chairman of News International. She agreed that she had been "quite forceful" in insisting that James should "take a step back".
She also lobbied for News International's chief executive Rebekah Brooks to resign. "She had to resign," she said yesterday. Ms Brooks, who faces criminal charges over phone hacking, is a friend of Ms Murdoch.
The latest comments follow Ms Murdoch's criticisms of her brother during her James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture on Thursday night.
That attack was widely seen as an attempt to distance herself from James and to position herself for a bigger role within News Corp, where James is deputy chief operating officer and had until recently been widely seen as the likely heir to their 81-year-old father, Rupert.
James Murdoch delivered the MacTaggart Lecture in 2009 and used the occasion to attack the ambition of the BBC and to claim that profit was the only guarantor of independence in business. His sister rebutted the theory – saying it was a "recipe for disaster" – and went out of her way to praise the leadership of the BBC and express support for its licence fee. Although she described James as an "incredibly able" media executive yesterday, the fact she pushed for him to stand down gives an indication of her position within the family and News Corp.
Since last year, Ms Murdoch has returned to the family business following News Corp's £415m acquisition of Shine Group, the portfolio of independent television production companies she has built up since 2001. But in Edinburgh she rejected the notion that she wanted to run News Corp. "I really harbour no ambition for the top job," she said.
Referring to her comments on News Corp in her speech, she said it had been a "nightmare year" for the company and she felt a responsibility to "stand and up be counted" by giving her views.
Ms Murdoch, 44, also used her MacTaggart speech to express her admiration for her father, who delivered the same lecture a generation earlier. "My dad had the vision, the will and the sense of purpose to challenge the old world order on behalf of 'the people'," she said. Yesterday she spoke of her pain at watching the elderly media mogul give evidence to MPs on his company's involvement in phone hacking
"As a daughter it was absolutely heartbreaking," she said. "He's my dad. I love him. " Ms Murdoch said her father was being genuine when he described the parliamentary questioning as the most humbling day of his life. "I know he absolutely meant it," she said.