News Corp: MPs' report 'unjustified and highly partisan'

  • News Corp admits it was ‘too slow and too defensive’in hacking response
  • Tories refused to back Rupert Murdoch ‘unfit’ claims

News Corp believes aspects of yesterday’s phone-hacking report by the Commons culture committee were ‘unjustified and highly partisan”.

The company hit back following claims that News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch was ‘not fit’to run a major company.

The company said that ‘hard truths’had emerged from the report – acknowledging there was ‘serious wrongdoing’at the News of the World, that its response was ‘too slow and too defensive”, and that some of its employees had misled the committee.

But it added: ‘News Corporation regrets, however, that the select committee’s analysis of the factual record was followed by some commentary that we, and indeed several members of the committee, consider unjustified and highly partisan. These remarks divided the members along party lines.”

It emerged yesterday that the most damning conclusion of the report – that Murdoch was unfit to run a major international company – was not backed by any of the four Conservative MPs on the committee.

Five Labour members backed the conclusion and one Liberal Democrat MP.

Conservative committee member Philip Davies accused Labour members on the committee of “getting carried away”, claiming: ‘Many people may conclude that some people’s conclusions were written before any of the evidence was ever heard, and I think that is very sad.

“To me, very clearly, Rupert Murdoch is a fit and proper person to run a major company.”

Another Tory member of the committee, Damian Collins, said “fit and proper person” was a specific legal test applied by regulator Ofcom and not something the committee could rule on.

Tory MP Louise Mensch also blamed Labour committee members for the inability to reach unanimous agreement on the ‘partisan’report, and also criticised the decision to question Rupert Murdoch’s fitness to run an international news company.

She said: “Conservative members of the committee did not vote as a bloc and often disagreed with each other and divided in different ways on different amendments. That was not, however, the same with our Labour colleagues.

“And it is not simply a matter of not voting for certain amendments. No Conservative member on this committee with a vote was able to recommend the report itself to the House.

Mensch added that ‘it will be correctly seen as a partisan report and will have lost a very great deal of its credibility, which is an enormous shame”

News Corp‘s statement continued: ‘We have already confronted and have acted on the failings documented in the report: we have conducted internal reviews of operations at newspapers in the United Kingdom and indeed around the world, far beyond anything asked of us by the Metropolitan police; we have volunteered any evidence of apparent wrongdoing to the authorities; and, we have instituted sweeping changes in our internal controls and our compliance programs on a worldwide basis, to help ensure that nothing like this ever happens again anywhere at News Corporation.

“As we move forward, our goal is to make certain that in every corner of the globe, our company acts in a manner of which our 50,000 employees and hundreds of thousands of shareholders can be justly proud.”

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