Remarks on Murdoch 'unjustified and partisan'

News Corp says scathing UK parliamentary report criticising its chairman exposed partisan politics within the committee.

    News Corp. has said the comments on Rupert Murdoch in a scathing British parliamentary report were "unjustified and highly partisan" and pointed out that the committee itself was split on whether to include the remarks.

    Murdoch himself said on on Tuesday that the report which said he was not fit to lead a major global company made for difficult reading.

    The 81-year-old tycoon also said in a message to News International staff that an internal committee set up in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal found no wrongdoing at his British broadsheet titles, but did not disclose the results of its probe into the Sun tabloid.

    "[The Murdochs] brought shame on our police force and our parliament. They lied and cheated, blackmailed and bullied. And we should all be ashamed when we think how we cowered before them for so long."

    - Tom Watson, MP

    "For all of us -- myself in particular -- it is difficult to read many of the report's findings," Murdoch told staff of News International, his British newspaper publishing arm, in an email.

    "But we have done the most difficult part, which has been to take a long, hard and honest look at our past mistakes."
    British lawmakers said in Tuesday's report that he had been guilty of "wilful blindness" over the News of the World hacking scandal.

    Parliament's influential culture committee said Murdoch's US-based News Corporation media empire had misled lawmakers and added that the 81-year-old tycoon and his son James should take corporate responsibility.

    Murdoch said the Management and Standards Committee, which was established by the company, "found no evidence of illegal conduct other than a single incident," at The Times and The Sunday Times.

    "Further, the Management and Standards Committee has also completed its internal review into The Sun," added the message, without revealing its conclusions.

    News Corporation responded to the report in a written statement on Tuesday, saying that it revealed "hard truths" - among them, that the company's "response to the wrongdoing was too slow and too defensive".

    But the statement also brought up the partisan politics within the committee, pointing to the fact not all of the committee's findings were unanimous and that they were divided "along party lines".

    The report was unanimous in singling out three ex-Murdoch aides -- former News International executive chairman Les Hinton, News of the World editor Colin Myler and legal manager Tom Crone -- for deliberately misleading parliament.

    But it was divided on whether to include the comments on Murdoch.

    Four committee members from Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party refused to approve them, but five opposition Labour members joined forces with the sole Liberal Democrat member to push them through.

    Conservative committee member Louise Mensch said the report would "correctly be seen as 'partisan'" and that it had "lost a very great deal of its credibility".

    Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee, reporting from London, said the report leaves Murdoch's corporate future in question, specifically, his company's bid to take over BSkyB, Britain's biggest satellite TV firm.

    "It may be that BSkyB is the first thing that's hived off by the Murdochs to try and save what's left of their corporate reputation," said Lee.

    Staff blamed

    Murdoch and his son, James Murdoch, who was News International's executive chairman at the time, both gave evidence to the committee on July 19 last year, when Murdoch senior was attacked with a foam pie by a protester.

    James was forced to resign as executive chairman of News International in February last year. He later also stepped down as chairman of BSkyB, but remains on its board.

    The committee's report, entitled "News International and Phone-Hacking", said senior executives at the company had misled their investigation.

    The panel said it was now for parliament's lower House of Commons to decide "what punishment should be imposed" on those it thinks have treated the committee with contempt.

    The report singled out former News International executive chairman Les Hinton, former News of the World legal manager Tom Crone and the newspaper's final editor Colin Myler as having misled the committee.

    The Murdochs blamed Crone and News of the World former editor Colin Myler for the scandal.

    Labour MP Tom Watson, himself a target of phone hacking, held Rupert Murdoch chiefly responsible.

    "More than any individual alive, he's to blame. Morally, the deeds are his. He paid the piper, and he called the tune," said Watson.

    "It is his company, his culture, his people, his business, his failure, his lies, his crimes, the price of profits and his power."

    Watson added that the Murdochs "brought shame on our police force and our parliament. They lied and cheated, blackmailed and bullied. And we should all be ashamed when we think how we cowered before them for so long".

    Rupert Murdoch apologised for the scandal but told the Leveson inquiry into press ethics last week that "one or two very strong characters" at News International had hidden the hacking scandal from him.

    His 39-year-old son has also apologised for failing to get to the bottom of the scandal but said he was kept in the dark by staff at the paper.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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