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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas