Crone, Myler, Hinton and Murdochs must all take a share of the blame for the cover-up which killed the News of the World

If any politician had treated a News International title the way its executives have treated the Commons Culture committee they would have been crucified in print.

So Rupert Murdoch can’t complain about most of the roasting he got yesterday in the long-awaited phone-hacking report.

As the Committee said: “News International has repeatedly stonewalled, obfuscated and misled and only come clean, reluctantly, when no other course of action was sensible and when its wider commercial interests were threatened. In Rupert Murdoch’s own words to the Leveson inquiry, News Corporation in the UK mounted a cover-up.”

Anyone who watched then News of the World editor Colin Myler, head lawyer Tom Crone  and former News International executive chairman Les Hinton testify before the committee in 2009 would have been left with the clear impression that phone-hacking at the paper was confined to Goodman and Mulcaire.

The MPs have effectively said that this was cobblers and that they feel they were led up the garden path.

Further up the food chain we will probably never know for sure the extent to which Murdochs junior and senior were in the loop as regards knowledge that phone-hacking was more widespread. But the assertion from MPs that the pair were at least guilty of “wilful blindness” seems to be a fair one.

Where yesterday’s report falls down is in the showboating flourish added by Labour’s Tom Watson at the end. You can’t fault Watson’s determination in bringing this scandal to light, but surely it is beyond even his growing authority to judge who is – and is not – a fit person to run a major international company.

While Myler, Crone and Hinton can at least console themselves with their huge pay-offs – the biggest victims from all this remain the majority off the 180 News of the World staff who lost their jobs last year and had nothing to do with either the hacking or the cover-up.

It was the cover-up that killed the News of the World and led to the panicked decision to close it last July. Myler, Hinton, Crone and both Murdochs have to take their share of the blame for the sequence of events which led to that tragedy.

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