Rupert Murdoch 'not a fit person' to run News Corporation

 

Rupert Murdoch is not a “fit person” to run a major international corporation, a committee of MPs said today.

The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee said Murdoch had exhibited a “wilful blindness” over the phone hacking scandal, and accused News Corporation of “huge failings of corporate governance”, saying its instinct had been “to cover up, rather than seek out wrongdoing and discipline the perpetrators”.

The report also accused three former senior News International executives - Les Hinton, Colin Myler and Tom Crone - of misleading the committee during its inquiries into the scandal. News International is News Corporation's newspaper publishing arm in the United Kingdom.

Hinton was found to have misled the committee in 2009 when he gave evidence about payments made to Clive Goodman - the former royal editor of the News of the World who was jailed for four months in 2007 over phone hacking.

Myler, a former editor of News of the World, and Crone, News of the World's former legal manager, were found to have misled the committee over knowledge that other members of staff had been involved in phone hacking.

The committee could now ask the House of Commons to decide if a contempt of Parliament had occured and if so, what the punishment should be.

The committee's report said: "The integrity and effectiveness of the select committee system relies on the truthfulness and completeness of the oral and written evidence submitted...The behaviour of News International and certain witnesses in this affair demonstrated contempt for that system in the most blatant fashion."

The committee found Rupert Murdoch's son James, News International's former executive chairman, had displayed “wilful ignorance” and a “lack of curiosity” over phone hacking.

It described as “simply astonishing” the fact he had not sought more evidence and information, and had maintained phone hacking was down to a single rouge reporter even after he authorised a £700,000 payout to Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association. It said the findings raised questions over his competence.

The committee said Rebekah Brooks, News International's former Chief Executive Officer, should accept responsibility for News of the World’s “indefensible behaviour” in its coverage of the investigation into the murder of schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Brooks was editor of News of the World at the time.

A spokesman for media regulator Ofcom said: “We note the publication of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee report. Ofcom has a duty under the Broadcasting Acts 1990 and 1996 to be satisfied that any person holding a broadcasting licence is, and remains, fit and proper to do so. Ofcom is continuing to assess the evidence - including the new and emerging evidence - that may assist it in discharging these duties.”

On Rupert Murdoch’s competence, the report said: “On the basis of the facts and evidence before the committee, we conclude that, if at all relevant times Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone hacking, he turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications.

“This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organisation and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International.

“We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.”

However, the Committee was split along party lines on many key issues, including its verdict on Murdoch’s competence. Conservative committee members voted against finding Murdoch unfit, while Labour and Liberal Democrat members voted in favour.

Expressing disappointment that the committee had not reached a unanimous conclusion, Labour committee member Tom Watson, who was at the forefront of efforts to expose the extent of phone hacking, said: “The truth is that whatever we have said in our report and however you choose to report it, the public have made up their minds: powerful people were involved in a cover-up and they still haven't accepted responsibility...And after all of this, the story is not yet over.”

“These people corrupted our country. They brought shame on our police force and our Parliament. They lied, they cheated, blackmailed and bullied and we should all be ashamed when we think how we cowered before them for too long.”

Watson called for a series of fresh inquiries by the Home Affairs Select Committee into new aspects of the case, adding he had "reason to believe" that the Serious and Organised Crime Agency possessed seized hard drives that included details of computer hacking victims that it was failing to inform.

He also asked for a Commons investigation into a potential contempt of Parliament over claims that private detectives were hired to dig into the private lives of the committee, and called for all serving and former prime ministers and chancellors to reveal full details text and email contacts with News Corporation executives.

Conservative committee member Louise Mensch blamed Labour committee members for the inability to reach unanimous agreement on the “partisan” report, criticising the decision to question Rupert Murdoch's fitness to run an international news company.

She said: “Conservative members of the committee did not vote as a bloc and often disagreed with each other and divided in different ways on different amendments. That was not, however, the same with our Labour colleagues.

”And it is not simply a matter of not voting for certain amendments. No Conservative member on this committee with a vote was able to recommend the report itself to the House.

“And every one of us, while we share different views about the culpability of News Corporation and the degree of culpability of James Murdoch in particular, none of us were able to support the report and we all voted against it.

”That will mean it will be correctly seen as a partisan report and will have lost a very great deal of its credibility, which is an enormous shame.

“The issue on which no Conservative member felt they could support the report itself was the line in the middle of the report that said that Mr Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to run an international company.

”We all thought that was wildly outside the scope of a select committee, was an improper attempt to influence Ofcom and to tread on areas that are not the province of a select committee.“

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
peopleComedian star of Ed Sullivan Show was mother to Ben Stiller
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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 General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?