Rupert Murdoch showed “wilful blindness” towards wrongdoing in News Corp and is “not a fit person” to run an international business, a committee of MPs has said.
The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee made the comments in a report in the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
News Corp’s attitude had been “to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing and discipline the perpetrators” and it was guilty of “huge failings of corporate governance”, according to the committee.
Colin Myler, Les Hinton and Tom Crone, all former senior executives of News Corp’s UK newspaper publishing division News International, were accused of misleading the committee during its investigation into the scandal.
Rupert’s son James was also criticised in the report, which claimed the “wilful ignorance” he showed about the actions taking place in his business “clearly raises questions of competence”.
However, the harshest words in the report were left for Rupert Murdoch.
“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,” said the report
“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.”
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The political parties were divided on the verdict on Rupert Murdoch and a number of other key findings. Labour and the Liberal Democrats voted in favour of the Rupert Murdoch verdict, while the Tories opposed it.
Former News International chairman Hinton misled the committee when he provided evidence in 2009 over the payments made to former royal correspondent Clive Goodman, the committee suggested. Goodman was jailed for phone hacking in 2007.
Myler, a former editor of the News of the World, and the newspaper’s former legal manager Crone misled the committee over their knowledge that other staff were also linked to phone hacking, the report said.
The committee may now ask the House of Commons to judge whether a contempt of parliament has taken place and what punishment should be dished out.
“The integrity and effectiveness of the select committee system relies on the truthfulness and completeness of the oral and written evidence submitted,” said the report.
It added: “The behaviour of News International and certain witnesses in this affair demonstrated contempt for that system in the most blatant fashion.”
In a statement, News Corp said: “News Corporation is carefully reviewing the Select Committee’s report and will respond shortly. The company fully acknowledges significant wrongdoing at News of the World and apologises to everyone whose privacy was invaded.”
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