2015-09-11 09:53:45

The media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has told a British parliamentary committee that he was not responsible for the phone-hacking scandal at one of his newspapers, the now defunct News of the World. He said he may have lost sight of what was happening there but the paper had represented less than 1% of his worldwide business. Mr Murdoch said he’d been shocked and ashamed when he learnt that the News of the World had hacked the phone of a murdered schoolgirl, and in his closing address, he gave this apology.

"I would like all the victims of phone hacking to know how completely and deeply sorry I am. Apologising cannot take back what has happened. Still, I want them to know the depth of my regret for the horrible invasions into their lives. I fully understand their ire. And I intend to work tirelessly to merit their forgiveness."

Mr Murdoch gave evidence alongside his son James, who is a senior executive in the media empire. Robert Peston followed the day’s events.

The Murdochs’ evidence to MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee had its moments of drama but few moments of revelation. There were elements of both when James Murdoch, the chairman of News International, confirmed that his company has been continuing to pay the legal expenses of Glenn Mulcaire, the private detective hired by the News of the World to illegally hack the phones of individuals. There are News Corporation investors who believe that at the age of 80, it might now be time for Rupert Murdoch to hand over the executive reins of the global media empire he created, and his performance today probably won’t dissuade them that the moment may have come. Although Mr Murdoch himself insisted he’s the right man to correct the News of the World’s sins of the past - sins that went on for years, but which Mr Murdoch didn’t notice in their enormity till the revelations a fortnight ago that the most vulnerable individuals’ phones had been hacked.

The parliamentary hearing had to be suspended for a time when a member of the public threw what appeared to be a plate of shaving foam at Mr Murdoch. Police arrested the man, and when the hearing resumed, members of the public were excluded. A member of parliament, Chris Bryant, was there. He described what he saw.

"Somebody suddenly appeared round from the left and had some kind of plastic plate with some shaving foam on it, and shoved it in Rupert Murdoch’s face. I think it’s just despicable. You know, there’s a really serious set of questions that people are answering and the whole country wanted to hear answered."

Earlier, Britain’s two most senior police officers, who both resigned over the hacking scandal, faced questions from another parliamentary committee. Assistant Commissioner John Yates said he could confidently predict that only a very small number of police officers would be jailed as a result of investigations into alleged illegal payments by journalists. The head of the Metropolitan Police Paul Stephenson said nearly a quarter of the force’s public affairs department once worked for Rupert Murdoch’s News International.

World News from the BBC

The United Nations is preparing to declare a famine in parts of Somalia. Across East Africa, an estimated 10 million people have been affected by the worst drought in more than half a century. Multiple sources say the UN will announce on Wednesday that conditions have deteriorated to such an extent that famine has returned to the region for the first time in 19 years.

The International Monetary Fund has warned that the European debt crisis could have major global consequences if it’s not dealt with quickly. The IMF said decisive action was critical to prevent the financial problems in countries, such as Greece, from spreading to major European economies. Our economics correspondent Andrew Walker reports.

The IMF paints a picture of striking contrast: the recovery in the core of the euro area, countries such as Germany, is resilient; other member countries are in what the report calls "dire shape". There was a call for decisive action including clarity about the role of private sector creditors of governments. Europe [has] been wrangling inconclusively for weeks about whether banks should help with a second bailout of Greece. The IMF also says countries should press ahead with reducing their borrowing needs, and that Europe should increase the size of its rescue loan facility.

A team of international experts has concluded that the former President of Chile, Salvador Allende, killed himself during the 1973 military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. A detailed report was released two months after Mr Allende’s body was exhumed as part of an inquiry into his death.

Judicial officials in France say they’ve questioned family members of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former IMF chief, over allegations that he tried to rape a young writer. Those questioned were the Socialist politician’s ex-wife and their daughter Camille, both of whom were once close to the complainant Tristane Banon. Mr Strauss-Kahn denies the allegation that an assault took place in 2003.


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