Rupert breaks his silence to defend himself, his son and his embattled empire

Since his arrival in Britain to manage the phone-hacking crisis, just two words have been uttered in public by Rupert Murdoch.

His sole utterance came when he was confronted by camera crews as he emerged from his apartment in Mayfair with Rebekah Brooks, the embattled chief executive of News International. Asked what his first priority was, the octogenarian tycoon pointed at her and simply replied: "This one."

Otherwise he has only produced inscrutable smiles. All that changed last night when the News Corporation chairman spoke for the first time about the scandal that has paralysed his global media empire.

He chose a vehicle on the other side of the Atlantic to start making the case for the defence – the Wall Street Journal, which News Corp acquired four years ago.

Mr Murdoch maintained that his company had responded quickly and effectively to the welter of problems threatening to engulf it – and predicted it would rebuild its reputation.

He singled out Gordon Brown for criticism after the former prime minister accused News International in the Commons of "law-breaking on an industrial scale" and of acting as a "criminal media nexus".

Mr Murdoch retorted that he had "got it entirely wrong" and insisted "the Browns were always friends of ours" until the Sun abandoned its support for Labour before the last general election.

News International has already rebutted Mr Brown's accusations about its reporters' methods, saying the stories about him and his family were in the public interest and produced by legitimate means. Mr Murdoch said he had changed his mind over whether to appear before MPs on the culture select committee next week after being advised he would otherwise be summoned by the Commons authorities.

He explained that he wanted to address "some of the things that have been said in Parliament, some of which are total lies". He said: "We think it's important to absolutely establish our integrity in the eyes of the public . . . I felt that it's best just to be as transparent as possible."

In his WSJ interview, he was relatively voluble in defence of the company, insisting it had handled the crisis "extremely well in every way possible" and had only made "minor mistakes".

Mr Murdoch maintained the damage to News Corp was "nothing that will not be recovered", saying: "We have a reputation of great good works in this country." Asked if he was aggravated by the recent headlines it had attracted, he said he was "just getting annoyed", but added: "I'll get over it. I'm tired."

The WSJ said that Mr Murdoch had contacted the paper after it made inquiries about the status of his son, James, within News Corp.

He said his son's position was unchanged and rejected criticism that James reacted too slowly in dealing with the scandal.

"I think he acted as fast as he could, the moment he could," Mr Murdoch said. He said he had also acted appropriately and rapidly: "When I hear something going wrong, I insist on it being put right."

Mr Murdoch said reports he was considering selling his newspaper holdings were "pure and total rubbish" and said: "Give it the strongest possible denial you can give."

Following the abandoment of its planned BSkyB takoever, he said News Corp was "buying back shares and looking for better places to put our money".

He announced he would establish an independent committee headed by a "distinguished non-employee". It will "investigate every charge of improper conduct" and draw a "protocol for behaviour" for reporters across the company.

As Mr Murdoch took to the pages of his American newspaper to defend his company's managing of the crisis, a number of senators sought to increase the pressure for a US inquiry similar to that which taking place in the UK.

Four Democratic senators including Barbara Boxer and Frank Lautenberg called on the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether News Corp broke the law on either US or UK soil by hacking cell phones and allegedly bribing public officials.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Account Manager, Spanish, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Account Manager, Spanish, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Account Manager, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Content Manager - Central London

£35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Central...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on