Murdoch unfit, say MPs
Rupert Murdoch is unfit to run a major international company, British MPs said yesterday, finding him responsible for a culture of illegal phone hacking that has convulsed his News Corporation media empire.
Pulling few punches, the MPs listed failings of the 81-year-old News Corporation chief, his son James and a company they said had shown "wilful blindness" about the scale of hacking at the News of the World.
The cross-party parliamentary committee, which approved the report by a majority of six to four, also scolded News Corporation's British newspaper arm for misleading parliament during its five-year investigation into the hacking of the phones of celebrities, murder victims, politicians and soldiers.
But it split along party lines, with members from Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party voting against the report, saying they did not agree with its view that Murdoch was not fit to run a major company.
Cameron, who has acknowledged that Britain's political elite had been in thrall to the Murdochs for years, is facing criticism ahead of local elections this week that he was too close to the media tycoon.
The report said there had been huge failures in corporate governance that raised questions about the competence of Rupert's son.
"News International and its parent News Corporation exhibited wilful blindness, for which the companies' directors - including Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch - should ultimately take responsibility.
"Their instinct throughout, until it was too late, was to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing and discipline the perpetrators," it said. "We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company."
The hacking could persuade shareholders of News Corporation that Australian-born Rupert Murdoch should step back.
It has already forced James Murdoch to sever almost all his ties with Britain, though he still holds a directorship of Britain's biggest satellite TV firm BSkyB, which News Corp had sought to take over before the scandal.