MPs on the Culture Committee have been damning in their criticism of Rupert Murdoch concluding that he is ‘not a fit person’to run a major international company.
In the committee’s first 2010 reporting into the press it accused News International of ‘collective amnesia’when it came to the hacking scandal.
- June 22, 2017
- June 20, 2017
- June 9, 2017
This time it went much further, for what it sees as a long history of misleading Parliament.
Today report states: ‘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.
The MPs note that Rupert Murdoch exhibited ‘excellent powers of recall and grasp of detail, when it has suited him”.
And they expressed incredulity that he said: ‘I forget the date’when asked when it was he realised that the News of the World‘s claim that phone-hacking was restricted to a lone reporter was false.
‘This is barely credible. Had he really learned for the first time at some point in the six months following his Thatcher Lecture [in October 2010] that he had been deceived, and so that he in turn had deceived the public and his shareholders, that moment would have been lodged forever in his memory. It would have been an unforgettable piece of information.
‘On the other hand, had he suspected all along that phone-hacking and other wrongdoing was endemic at the News of the World–that the means justified the ends in beating the competition and getting the story–and that elaborate, expensive steps were being taken to conceal it, it is entirely understandable that the precise moment between 21 October 2010 and 8 April 2011, when he recognised the game was up, might have slipped his memory. And all the more so, had he already realised the truth long before those dates.
‘In such circumstances, even if he took no part in discussions about what to reveal and when, there would probably not have been a clear moment of revelation. There would have been a gradual erosion of the ‘one rogue reporter’ fiction to the point where a collective decision to abandon it would have been taken. In those circumstances, it would be entirely understandable that he should forget the date, if indeed there was a single date on which the decision was taken, rather than an unfolding contingency plan involving gradual admissions.”
The report adds: ‘The notion that–given all that had gone on, right back to evidence given over payments to the police to our predecessor Committee in 2003–a hands-on proprietor like Rupert Murdoch had no inkling that wrongdoing and questionable practice was not widespread at the News of the World is simply not credible.
The MPs cited Murdoch’s decision to reinstate arrested Sun journalists on 17 February as another example of his ‘toleration of alleged wrongdoing”.
The said: ‘This is in contrast to most organisations this Committee can think of, which would have suspended such employees until the police had confirmed that no charges were being brought.”
Murdoch senior told MPs that the News of the World comprised less than one per cent of his company, explaining his lack of oversight.
But MPs said: ‘This self-portrayal, however, as a hands-off proprietor is entirely at odds with numerous other accounts, including those of previous editors and from Rebekah Brooks, who told us she spoke to Rupert Murdoch regularly and ‘on average, every other day’.
‘It was, indeed, we consider, a misleading account of his involvement and influence with his newspapers.
‘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.”