Rupert Murdoch 'not fit' to lead major international company
Rupert Murdoch is not a "fit" person to lead a major international company, the committee of MPs investigating the phone hacking scandal has concluded.
However, the Committee was bitterly split over the report and Tory MPs refused to vote for it after Labour MP Tom Watson inserted the line criticising Mr Murdoch. Chairman John Whittingdale also revealed that as chairman he had not voted on the report but hinted that he would have joined his Tory colleagues.
News Corporation's statement in response admitted the report highlighted some "hard truths" about the company, but criticised the "unjustified and highly partisan" commentary from some members of the Committee.
The report concluded that "corporately, the News of the World and News International misled the Committee about the true nature and extent of the internal investigations they professed to have carried out in relation to phone hacking".
It accused the organisation of trying to "cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing and discipline the perpetrators" and named Les Hinton, Tom Crone and Colin Myler as having misled the committee.
Speaking at a press conference at the launch of the report, committee member Paul Farrelly said: "We have been led up the garden path by News International."
Rupert Murdoch, the report says, "turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications". The committee added this culture "permeated" the organisation.
It concluded that "Rupert Murdoch is not a for person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company". When the committee divided on whether to publish the report as it stood, Conservative MPs Therese Coffey, Damian Collins, Philip Davies and Louise Mensch voted against it, partly because they felt the use of the word "fit" mirrored the "fit and proper" description of a holder of a broadcast licence that Ofcom adjudicates on.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg appeared to echo their concerns this afternoon when he told the World at One that he did not "think it's right for any politician to second guess" the outcome of Ofcom's investigation into BSkyB.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said the question of Mr Murdoch's dominance should be referred to Ofcom, and that he took the verdict "very seriously".
During the press conference, Mr Whittingdale also confirmed that he had been approached by News International lobbyist Fred Michel. He said he operated an "open door policy" with all inquiries and was happy to listen to anyone who wished to put their side of events across. But he and other committee members strenuously denied that there was any chance they had been influenced by News International.