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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable