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.
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