Murdoch Hacking Scandal: 'Catalogue of Failures'


The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee opened hearings into the phone hacking scandal that has roiled the media, police and the public in Britain. Outside the hearing room, the international media and a huge crush of spectators crowded the building. Behind the Murdochs sat a limited number of spectators, including Murdoch's wife, Wendi Deng.

The morning's questioning is a follow-up to a similar hearing that took place in 2009. In the committee's previous report, the committee stated it was "inconceivable" only one reporter had been involved in phone hacking.

When asked if closing News of the World was a commercial decision, Rupert Murdoch said, "Far from it."

Both men played down the suggestion that they were planning to open a new Sunday tabloid to replace the News of the World.

"We have made no decision on that," Rupert Murdoch said. His son added: "I think we leave all those options open. That is not the company's priority now."

Rupert Murdoch's first comment to Parliament was that today is the "most humble day of my life."

In answering a query about his hands on-off approach when it comes to his newspapers, Rupert Murdoch said that he perhaps "lost sight of" the News of the World because it was so small in the general frame of the company. He explained that the editor he is in most touch with is the editor of the Wall Street Journal because they work in the same building. The News Corp. headquarters is in Manhattan.

Rupert Murdoch said he works a 10 to 12 hour workday, but he was not aware of all the details of News of the World, which comprises less than 1 percent of his entire company.

"I employ more than 53,000 people around the world," the elder Murdoch said.

Piers Morgan, CNN host and former editor at News of the World, defended his former boss.

"Rupert called me every week for 18ms on News of the World -- rarely asked about anything but what stories we had that week," Morgan tweeted during the hearing.

Murdoch's son, James, said that what happened at the company's now closed News of the World newspaper was not in keeping with the company's standards.

"I have to tell you I sympathize with the frustration of this committee," James Murdoch said. "It's a matter of real regret that the facts could not emerge and could not be gotten to, to my understanding, faster."

Rupert Murdoch's Statement to the Committee

In answer to a number of questions, Rupert Murdoch, 80, said he did not recall exact details and paused for moments before responding.

"We have broken our trust with our readers," a grim Rupert Murdoch said.

One member of Parliament, Tom Watson, asked Rupert Murdoch whether Rebekah Brooks or James Murdoch informed him that victims of phone hacking received monetary settlements. Rupert Murdoch said he did not remember precisely, but his son likely informed him. The elder Murdoch also looked to his son when asked who was the lead counsel of his company at one point.

Sir Paul Stephenson, who quit as head of the Metropolitan Police, also known as Scotland Yard, testified first about his involvement with the case. He fielded questions from MPs about the department's relationship with the Murdoch papers.

Stephenson told the committee that "distracting" news coverage of his connection to the hacking case gave him no other choice than to resign. "It was my decision and my decision only."

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