Tuesday, May 1, 2012

House of Commons report on News International phone hacking scandal calls Rupert Murdoch unfit to lead the media company; Tory committee members stay loyal to Murdoch, voting against report and "unfit' label

The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee issued a report this morning on the phone hacking scandal involving News International. The main finding that is being focused on by the media is that the committee calls Rupert Murdoch "not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company."

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.
The report's conclusions list the witnesses that it said misled the committee including Les Hinton, a News Corp. journalist who was named CEO of the Wall Street Journal in 2007 but resigned that post last summer due to the scandal, Tom Crone, a British lawyer who worked for News International as Legal Affairs manager, as well as News International, in general.

In the end, however, the conservative U.K. government representatives on the committee lined up in support of Rupert Murdoch and on softening the report. The four Tory members, Dr Thérèse Coffey, Damian Collins, Philip Davies, Louise Mensch consistently voted against language that toughened the committee's report.

Tory MP Louise Mensch said this morning that none of the conservative members of the committee could support that report and "that will mean that it will be correctly seen as a partisan report". Mensch pointed to the inclusion in the report of the line that said Murdoch as unfit to lead News Corp.

All five Labour Party members, plus the one Liberal Democrat on the committee, Adrian Sanders, voted in favor of the final report and the wording concerning Rupert Murdoch.

The entire report is online and can be found here.