'A very difficult family moment': Shareholders turn on James and Lachlan Murdoch

More than a third of News Corporation’s shareholders voted against the re-election of Rupert Murdoch’s sons James and Lachlan to the company’s board of directors at last week’s AGM in Los Angeles.

Around 35 per cent voted against James Murdoch and 34 per cent against Lachlan – but the figure becomes much higher if the votes of the Murdochs and Saudi prince Alwaleed Bin Talal , a backer of the family with a 7 per cent stake in News Corp, are removed.

According to BBC business editor Robert Peston, using this figure 55 per cent of independent shareholders voted against James, and if those who abstained from the vote are included the figure rises to close to 80 per cent.

News Corp chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch fared far better than his sons, with only 14 per cent of shareholders voting against the 80 year old’s re-election.

Labour MP and phone-hacking campaigner Tom Watson, who attended the AGM in Los Angeles, was quoted in the Daily Mail saying:

This is the autumn of the patriarch. The investors have chosen to send a signal that this company needs to be run on proper lines rather than like a family firm.

According to the Mail shareholders backed executives brought in to clean up the company after the phone-hacking scandal, including 96 per cent voting for the re-election former US assistant attorney general Joel Klein, the man leading News Corp’s internal investigation.

The blow to James Murdoch’s standing at the company came on the same day that the culture select committee announced it was recalling him to give evidence for a second time into phone-hacking at the News of the World next month.

Former News International executive chairman Les Hinton was yesterday quizzed by video-link by the committee yesterday when he told MPs there was “no reason” why James Murdoch should resign from his post at News Corp.

Meanwhile, Murdoch biographer  Michael Wolff told The Guardian that it was now inevitable that James Murdoch would leave the company, and described the situation as “a very difficult family moment.”

He said:

James will probably go by himself, that’s what everybody will be waiting for. I wonder too if Lachlan will step off the board. But could this drag on for another year? Yes.

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