James Murdoch, the deputy chief operating officer of News International, the British-based subsidiary of his father Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, appeared before the same parliamentary committee on Thursday as he had back in July. Then, both father and son had testified before the culture, media and sport select committee and said they extended their deepest apologies to the family of Milly Dowler, the 13-year-old British girl whose voicemail was hacked by the now-defunct News of the World‘s staff. The Murdochs insisted then that they simply hadn’t been aware that phone-hacking was widespread; that anyone besides a single “rogue reporter” was engaged in such illegal practices.
James Murdoch’s Testimony “Disingenuous At Best”
This time, Murdoch’s younger son appeared alone and relied on quite the same tactic, calmly and repeatedly avowing that, in 2008, he had not been told about the emails, letters and other evidence that revealed the phone hacking was widespread at the NoW. He openly refuted the testimony of two former NoW executives, former editor Colin Myler and Tom Crone, the NoW‘s legal manager; Murdoch went so far as to say that their testimony was “misleading.”
Myler and Crone have said that they had shown Murdoch a crucial email marked “for Neville” –a reference to a senior NoW reporter, Neville Thurlsbeck — that contained a transcript of a phone conversation acquired via phone hacking. Myler and Crone have said they presented Murdoch with the email in regard to a phone hacking suit brought against News International by Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association. News International ended up paying Taylor more than £450,000 ($725,000) and legal fees exceeding $322,000; the payment was authorized by James Murdoch. A June 3, 2008, memo has also emerged from News International’s legal counsel Michael Silverleaf that warned executives about a “culture of illegal information access.”
On Thursday, Murdoch insisted that “no documents were shown to me or given to me” in 2008, as well as that he had not misled the parliamentary committee back in July.
Response to Murdoch’s Testimony
Jack Irvine, a former News International executive, said simply that Murdoch should “fall on his sword” and that his testimony is proof that he is simply not “competent” to run the company:
“One of my old Sun colleagues was saying he wished Murdoch had been in charge when he was there so he could stroll in and ask him sign a cheque for £300,000 and not ask what it was for,” say Irvine.
If Murdoch’s statements are true, he would indeed seem to be lacking as an executive.
Photo by Esther Dyson via Wikimedia Common
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