Murdoch Hacking Scandal: 'Catalogue of Failures'

New Parliament report cites lapses in hacking scandal.

ByABC News
July 20, 2011, 7:45 AM

July 20, 2011— -- A British parliamentary committee on Wednesday heaped scorn on Rupert Murdoch's News International for trying to "deliberately thwart" a probe into phone hacking by the company's journalists and called out the police for failing to thoroughly investigate it.

"There has been a catalog of failures by the Metropolitan Police and deliberate attempts by News International to thwart the various investigations," said Keith Vaz, the committee's chairman.

A Parliament committee heard testimony from Murdoch and his son James on Tuesday regarding the hacking scandal at News of the World that has roiled the company and the country.

The new report released overnight singled out former assistant police commissioners John Yates and Andy Hayman for criticism. Yates' 2009 review of the investigation that concluded there was no need to probe further was "very poor" and a "serious misjudgment," according to the report.

Hayman's "cavalier attitude" undermined public confidence in police impartiality, the report stated. Hayman, the report said, made "deliberate prevarication" to mislead the committee about allegations that police took payoffs from reporters.

Prime Minister David Cameron testified before Parliament Wednesday that he would not have hired ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his communications chief had he known about the hacking there.

"With hindsight" it was the wrong decision and Cameron said he would offer a "profound apology" if Coulson was found to have lied to him over his involvement.

"You live and learn and believe me I have learnt," the PM said. He also denied claims today that his staff had tried to stop an investigation into phone hacking and police bribery at The News of the World and said the police were to blame.

"The vast majority of our police officers are beyond reproach and serve the public with distinction," he said today. "But police corruption must be rooted out."

Ed Miliband, the opposition Labour leader, told Parliament that there had been a "deliberate attempt to hide the facts." Miliband claimed that Cameron ignored repeated warnings about Coulson's suitability for the job as press spokesman. He called the hiring a "catastrophic error of judgment."

Yesterday, the apologetic Murdochs went before the committee -- with some fireworks when someone tried to hit Rupert with a foam pie.

Video of Wendi Murdoch Intervening

Many News Corp. analysts seemed to share the opinion that the hearing was not as disastrous as expected and may have even helped the company. News Corp.'s stock rose on Tuesday by 83 cents, or 5.5 percent.

"We give [Rupert Murdoch] an A+ for contrition, which probably helps repair his reputation a bit," David Bank, analyst with RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a recap of the hearing.

Bank also wrote that James Murdoch was "really the star of the show, and his credibility was probably enhanced." Murdoch's youngest son said he was not working directly with News International when the hacking first began.

"He acknowledged that he was informed about key follow-up issues like civil settlements but was not a driving force behind them," Bank wrote.

James Murdoch, 38, is deputy chief operating officer of News Corp. and chairman and CEO of News International. He is in part blamed for mishandling the debacle that also led News Corp. to withdraw its takeover bid for pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB on July 13.

James has been criticized for responding too slowly to initial allegations that the tabloid was engaging in illegal phone-hacking. News International apologized in rival national newspapers over the weekend for its wrongdoings.

The Murdochs did not reveal any crucial information that could implicate them in additional phone hacking scandals, saying they were "unaware" of phone hacking with respect to victims of the 9/11 attacks. The FBI announced they began a preliminary inquiry on July 14 into the matter.