We’ve known it for years, but now it’s official - “Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of major international company”. This is the damning summation of a UK Government Select Committee report into the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
The Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee also accused Rupert Murdoch of “wilful blindness” towards the wrongdoing in his organization, and that there had been “huge failings of corporate governance”, whose sole aim was “to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing and discipline the perpetrators”.
The report accused 3 former senior executives from News International - Les Hinton, Colin Myler, and Tom Crone - of misleading the committee during its inquiries into Hackgate.
James Murdoch’s competence was called into question, and he was said to have had a “wilful ignorance” about events at News International and the News of the World.
But the most damning indictment was made against Rupert “Digger” Murdoch, the report concluded:
“On the basis of the facts and evidence before the committee, we conclude that, if at all relevant times Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone hacking, he turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications.
“This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organisation and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International.
“We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.”
James Murdoch has quit as director of The Sun and the London Times newspapers, the Evening Standard reports:
Companies House filings show James Murdoch has stepped down from the boards of both News Group Newspapers Limited, publisher of The Sun, and Times Newspapers Limited, which operates The Times and Sunday Times.
NGN used to operate the News of the World and remains embroiled in legal action over phone-hacking.
The departures come as James Murdoch also faces calls to quit as chairman of BSkyB at next week’s annual general meeting. His decision means no member of the Murdoch family now sits on the boards of the flagship UK papers.Rupert Murdoch used to be a director of NGN and TNL but stepped down after his son took over as NI executive chairman in 2007. James Murdoch has also quit at least one other subsidiary, News International Holdings.
Murdoch’s decision to quit is possibly one of damage limitation over the recent News of the World ‘phone hacking scandal.
The Evening Standard quotes Claire Enders, founder of Enders Analysis, who said:
“Because it is inescapable that there will be some kind of censure from the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, it is inevitable that people will say maybe you’ve got too much on your plate, it makes sense to step back from some of the roles.” But Enders said Murdoch still faces intense pressure as the police investigate hacking at the News of the World.
“He can step down from all these positions but he won’t stop any of the other issues surrounding his stewardship,” she said.
Though Enders dismissed talk News Corp would sell the UK papers, Murdoch’s surprise resignation does suggest a shift in relationship between the parent company and the newspapers.
It’s being reported in The Guardian and elsewhere that Rupert Murdoch’s News International has offered the family of slain teen Milly Dowler a £3 million settlement over the phone hacking scandal, plus another £1 million donation to charity:
It emerged in July that Milly Dowler’s mobile phone had been hacked after her death. Voicemails were accessed on behalf of the News of the World, and messages left for her were deleted to make room for more recordings. This gave the family false hope that she was still alive, because messages were disappearing.
Other lawyers bringing phone-hacking cases are privately indicated that they would be advising many of those bringing actions to try and reach a settlement rather than take their cases to lengthy and expensive trials. A handful of cases have been taken forward as lead actions by Mr Justice Vos, to establish a benchmark for settlements in future lawsuits.
Murdoch met with the Dowler family in July, shortly after the original story about hacking into her phone broke, making what the family’s lawyer, Mark Lewis, said was a “full and humble” apology. The News Corporation chairman and chief executive “held his head in his hands” and repeatedly told the family he was “very, very sorry.”
I’ll bet that old vampire is sorry…
This settlement now sets a big money precedent for other victims of Murdoch-funded phone hacking. The attorneys representing the celebrities and 7/7 families who might have had their phones hacked by the News of the World must be smelling blood in the water right about now. Fantastic!
P.S. I updated this post and headline as the amount now being reported that the Fowler family was offered has subsequently been revised one million pounds higher. Nicely extracted!
In today’s social media connected world, when you fuck up, you can fuck up LARGE. But when you’re an international media conglomerate with a several billion-dollar market cap that a sizable portion of the European and North American populations already find to be a noxious, corrosive, evil influence on modern life, and you fuck up, you fuck up in ways that can cost your investors billions.
The Murdochs are now social pariahs in the UK. No one is going to stand up for them, no one at all. How much longer can they credibly continue to do business in Britain? Not a pretty picture for a public company to be in. Expect their shareholders to start fleeing as the holes they dug for themselves are revealed to be deeper than anyone ever imagined as deep as everyone has always suspected.
Of course, as the Murdoch/News International/NewsCorp death spiral takes new twists and turns—like today’s blockbuster revelations—we’re sure not going to hear about the company’s travails from a NewsCorp outlet, are we? But who wants that shit anyway? Problem is, Murdoch and co. own so much of the media that it’s hard to keep track of what is theirs and what’s not. A new browser plug-in called MurdochAlert will alert web surfers when then unwittingly happen upon a website owned by parent company NewsCorp or one of their subsidiaries. From the MurdochAlert free download page:
NewsCorp agents in multiple countries have been arrested for hacking into the phones and computers of at least thousands of innocent people. Since the Murdoch family controls 100+ high-traffic domains, it is difficult for average users to know which sites could potentially place them at risk.
MurdochAlert identifies the domains that may place users at risk for Murdoch-related hacking. MurdochAlert shows a bottom warning box whenever you visit a Murdoch-controlled sited.
Nicely! And then there is Murdoch Block, which is a bit more hardcore and will block Murdoch-owned website altogether:
Install this app to if you want to estimate News Corp’s influence on your internet life, install it to make a statement to the Murdoch empire or install it because you’ve just had enough lies.
Thousands of these plug-ins have been downloaded in the past few days.
Rupert Murdoch’s flagship daily UK tabloid The Sun was this evening hacked by a group claiming to be Lulzsec, who uploaded a fake front page story that Murdoch’s cold, lifeless body had been found in his private glasshouse, after overdosing on palladium. Oh, if only. The website still seems to be down, and we are assuming that service will be back to normal by tomorrow, but by gum this was a good prank!
Sean Hoare, the News of the World phone-hacking whistleblower has been found dead at his home in Watford, the Guardian reports:
Sean Hoare, the former News of the World showbiz reporter who was the first named journalist to allege Andy Coulson was aware of phone hacking by his staff, has been found dead, the Guardian has learned.
Hoare, who worked on the Sun and the News of the World with Coulson before being dismissed for drink and drugs problems, is said to have been found dead at his Watford home.
Hertfordshire police would not confirm his identity, but the force said in a statement: “At 10.40am today [Monday 18 July] police were called to Langley Road, Watford, following the concerns for the welfare of a man who lives at an address on the street. Upon police and ambulance arrival at a property, the body of a man was found. The man was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after.
“The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing.”
Hoare first made his claims in a New York Times investigation into the phone-hacking allegations at the News of the World.
He told the newspaper that not only did Coulson know of the phone hacking, but that he actively encouraged his staff to intercept the phone calls of celebrities in the pursuit of exclusives.
In a subsequent interview with the BBC he alleged that he was personally asked by his then-editor, Coulson, to tap into phones. In an interview with the PM programme he said Coulson’s insistence that he didn’t know about the practice was “a lie, it is simply a lie”.
Earlier this year, Sean Hoare contributed to a BBC documentary, “Tabloid Hacks Exposed”, which examined the extent of illegal activity perpetrated by News International employees when obtaining a story, particularly the interception of computer email communications and phone hacking.
“Tabloid Hacks Exposed” was made for the BBC’s Panorama strand, and was first broadcast in March 2011, and is essential viewing.
Phone hacking was once dismissed by executives at News International as the illegal work of “one rogue reporter”. The defence collapsed with one journalist at the News of the World being sacked and the original police inquiry having to be re-opened.
Panorama exposes the full extent of the “dark arts” employed by journalists across the industry to get their story. The programme reveals a dishonourable history of law breaking that went beyond phone hacking and questions the police inaction that let it continue.