May 1 - Rupert Murdoch is unfit to run a major international company and should take responsibility for a culture of illegal phone hacking that has shaken News Corp, according to a powerful British parliamentary committee. Matt Cowan reports.
SOUNDBITE: Tom Watson, Committee Member, saying (English) "In the view of the majority of committee members, Rupert Murdoch is not fit to run an international company like BSkyB." It was the bombshell few were expecting. 81-year-old News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch had, just days earlier, conceded that some at his UK newspaper operation must have orchestrated a cover up of widespread phone hacking at the now defunct tabloid News of the World, but denied direct knowledge or responsibility. In publishing its report into the phone hacking saga, a British parliamentary committee blamed both Rupert and son James Murdoch for a culture of "wilful blindness" at UK newspaper group News International and parent News Corp. Chairman John Wittingdale: SOUNDBITE: JOHN WITTINGDALE, COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN SAYING (English): "Whilst there was no definitive evidence to prove whether or not James Murdoch was aware of the 'For Neville' email or indeed other evidence which indicated that phone hacking was more widespread, the committee was nevertheless astonished that he did not seek to see the evidence on which the decision to pay the settlement in the Gordon Taylor case was based. The committee also went on to conclude, again by a majority vote that corporately, News of the World and News International had misled the committee repeatedly about the true extent and nature of the investigations that they claimed to have carried out in relation to phone hacking." Laywer Mark Lewis represented the family of Milly Dowler, the murdered teenager whose phone was found to be hacked, igniting public outcry last summer. SOUNBITE: Mark Lewis, Lawyer, saying (English) "It's a serious blow. In America the shareholder and other directors will be looking at how a company, how a part of a company was completely out of control. Whether they take a commercial decision to say 'what do we need newspapers for? Particularly newspapers in England and get rid of that division, or more seriously what do we need James Murdoch, what do we need Rupert Murdoch for? They're now tarnished. They're tarnished personally in terms of their directorial responsibility." The report may force James Murdoch, once heir apparent to the media empire, to sever his last ties with Britain's biggest satellite TV firm BSkyB which News Corp had sought to take over before the scandal. He recently stepped down as BSkyB chairman but remains on the board. UK media regulator Ofcom will take the report's findings into consideration in its assessment of whether BSkyB's owners and directors are "fit and proper" persons to hold a broadcast licence. Matt Cowan, Reuters