Thursday 14 December 2017

Video: Rupert Murdoch not 'fit person' to run News Corp says MPs' report

RUPERT Murdoch is "not a fit person" to run an international company because he showed "wilful blindness" to the extent of phone-hacking at the News of the World, a report by MPs has concluded.

The News Corporation chairman “turned a blind eye” to what was going on at News International as it sought to “cover up wrongdoing”, the culture, media and sport committee said.

The culture of cover-up “permeated from the top throughout the organisation”, the report says, “and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International”.

“Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company,” it adds, and together with his son James should take “ultimate responsibility” for the scandal.

Top executives including Les Hinton, the former chief executive of News International, lied to the committee and News International as a whole showed “blatant contempt” for the select committee by seeking to mislead it.

Witnesses who gave evidence to the committee about phone-hacking could now be “punished”, the report says, by being summoned before Parliament to apologise – something which has not happened for more than 50 years.

The committee’s 121-page report, published this morning, pulls no punches in its damning criticism of News Corp’s most senior executives.

The former NI chairman James Murdoch, it says, showed “wilful ignorance” of what was going on under his nose; Mr Hinton was “complicit in the cover-up”; the News of the World’s last editor, Colin Myler, and its former head lawyer, Tom Crone, “answered questions falsely” when they gave evidence and Rebekah Brooks, the former NI chief executive, “should accept responsibility” for what happened, even if she was unaware of how far it went.

The report, which focuses on whether witnesses misled the committee, in the light of evidence which has emerged since a previous report into hacking was published, does not reserve its criticism entirely for News Corp.

Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, and John Yates, the former acting deputy commissioner of Scotland Yard, both “bear culpability” for “failing to ensure” that evidence held by the Yard was properly investigated in the years following the 2007 conviction of Clive Goodman, the former NoW royal editor, and private detective Glenn Mulcaire, for voicemail interception.

The Metropolitan Police as a whole “had no interest or willingness to uncover the full extent of the phone-hacking which had taken place”, the report says.

Surrey Police, meanwhile, were criticised for having “sat on” the knowledge that the News of the World had hacked the voicemails of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler for 10 years, and doing nothing about it.

But it is the report’s excoriating criticism of Rupert Murdoch that will have the most impact both here and internationally.

Last week Mr Murdoch admitted to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards that there had been a “cover-up” which he said came from “within the News of the World” and involved at least one lawyer and other senior people who he declined to name.

The committee, however, lays the blame squarely at Mr Murdoch’s door.

The report says: “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.

“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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