News Corporation chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch has described today’s appearance before the culture select committee as ‘the most humble day of my career”.
The Murdochs began giving evidence at 2.30pm. His son James’ request to read an opening statement before questioning was rejected but he was given permission to present it in writing.
Here is the statement in full:
My son and I have come here with great respect for all of you, for Parliament and for the people of Britain whom you represent.
This is the most humble day of my career. After all that has happened, I know we need to be here today.
Before going further, James and I would like to say how sorry we are for what has happened – especially with regard to listening to the voicemail of victims of crime.
My company has 52,000 employees. I have led it for 57 years and I have made my share of mistakes.
I have lived in many countries, employed thousands of honest and hardworking journalists, owned nearly 200 newspapers and followed countless stories
about people and families around the world.
At no time do I remember being as sickened as when I heard what the Dowler family had to endure – nor do I recall being as angry as when I was told that the News of the World could have compounded their distress.
I want to thank the Dowlers for graciously giving me the opportunity to apologise in person.
I would like all the victims of phone hacking to know how completely and deeply sorry I am.
Apologising cannot take back what has happened. Still, I want them to know the depth of my regret for the horrible invasions into their lives. I fully understand their ire.
And I intend to work tirelessly to merit their forgiveness. I understand our responsibility to cooperate with today’s session as well as with future inquiries.
We will respond to your questions to the best of our ability and follow up if we are not capable of answering anything today. Please remember that some facts and information are still being uncovered.
We now know that things went badly wrong at the News of the World. For a newspaper that held others to account, it failed when it came to itself.
The behavior that occurred went against everything that I stand for. It not only betrayed our readers and me, but also the many thousands of magnificent professionals in our other divisions around the world.
So, let me be clear in saying: invading people’s privacy by listening to their voicemail is wrong. Paying police officers for information is wrong. They are inconsistent with our codes of conduct and neither has any place, in any part of the company I run.
But saying sorry is not enough. Things must be put right. No excuses. This is why News International is cooperating fully with the police whose job it is to see that justice is done.
It is our duty not to prejudice the outcome of the legal process. I am sure the committee will understand this.
I wish we had managed to see and fully solve these problems earlier. When two men were sent to prison in 2007, I thought this matter had been settled. The police ended their investigations and I was told that News International conducted an internal review.
I am confident that when James later rejoined News Corporation he thought the case was closed too.
These are subjects you will no doubt wish to explore today.
This country has given me, our companies and our employees many opportunities.
I am grateful for them. I hope our contribution to Britain will one day also be recognised.
Above all, I hope that, through the process that is beginning with your questions today, we will come to understand the wrongs of the past, prevent them from happening again and, in the years ahead, restore the nation’s trust in our company and in all British journalism.
I am committed to doing everything in my power to make this happen.
Thank you. We are happy to answer your questions.