Tuesday 19 July 2011

Rupert Murdoch 'humble' before Parly Committee

News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch told the Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing into phone hacking today: "This is the most humble day of my life."

He said he was "absolutely shocked, appalled and ashamed" when he heard that Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked.

Murdoch said News International would make every effort to make sure News of the World staff would be offered new jobs if they were "not part of the group involved in criminality".

He told the committee David Cameron had invited him to Downing Street for tea to thank him for his support at the last General Election.

Asked who was responsible for the phone-hacking crisis, Murdoch said: "The people I trusted and the people they trusted." He said he would have trusted former News International chairman Les Hinton with his life.

Murdoch denied that closing the News of the World was a commercial decision, commenting "far from it," and claimed the UK benefited from a competitive press.

He said he and had been close to Gordon Brown but the former Prime Minister had never raised phone hacking with him. Murdoch said investigative journalism led to a more open and transparent society but journalists should never break the law.

News Corp's deputy chief operating officer James Murdoch told the committee that there was "no immediate plan" to replace the News of the World with a new Sunday paper.

He said he welcomed the inquiry into media ethics and said "the industry as a whole" needed to decide what sort of governance was required.

James Murdoch said he was "shocked" to discover that News International was paying towards private investigator Glenn Mulcaire's legal fees.

The Committe was suspended after demonstrator tried to attack Rupert Murdoch with what appeared to be a plate of shaving foam.

When it resumed, Rupert Murdoch was asked if he had considered resigning. He said it was for those who "betrayed" the company to pay.

In a statement to the Committee, Rupert Murdoch said: "My company has 52,000 employees. I have led it for 57 years and I have made my share of mistakes. I have lived in many countries, employed thousands of honest and hardworking journalists, owned nearly 200 newspapers and followed countless stories about people and families around the world.

"At no time do I remember being as sickened as when I heard what the Dowler family had to endure – nor do I recall being as angry as when I was told that the News of the World could have compounded their distress. I want to thank the Dowlers for graciously giving me the opportunity to apologise in person.

"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.

"We now know that things went badly wrong at the News of the World. For a newspaperthat held others to account, it failed when it came to itself. The behavior that occurred went against everything that I stand for.

"It not only betrayed our readers and me, but alsothe many thousands of magnificent professionals in our other divisions around the world.So, let me be clear in saying: invading people’s privacy by listening to their voicemail iswrong. Paying police officers for information is wrong. They are inconsistent with ourcodes of conduct and neither has any place, in any part of the company I run."

He concluded: "Above all, I hope that, through the process that is beginning with your questions today, wewill come to understand the wrongs of the past, prevent them from happening again and,in the years ahead, restore the nation’s trust in our company and in all British journalism."

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