Phone hacking scandal: The day after the ‘humble’ before

Yesterday was one of the most extraordinary days in parliamentary life as MP’s got to quiz the faces behind the media empire which has dominated life and politics for many years.

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News International interrupts his son James at the start of the mammoth session to state “This is the most humble day of my life”. Its the message that we got most from the hearings, as Rupert and James continually apologised for what had happened, although if you thought they would announced that the buck stops with them – you were wrong.

He justified closing down News of the World, the UK’s best selling newspaper, by saying that the trust once had with the readers was now gone. The allegations that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler had her voicemails hacked into, some deleted, were the tipping point in this story. Last week Rupert Murdoch met with the parents of Milly Dowler to apologise for what had happened.

Rupert has said that he will get to the bottom of it and those responsible will be dealt with appropriately. “There were people in the company which apparently were guilty. And we have to find them and we have to deal with them appropriately”.

Rupert said that he felt let down by people that he had trusted, although refused to name who. “I think they behaved disgracefully and betrayed the company, and me.” He ended the session by reading out a statement, something which was refused at the start, reiterating all the points that he had said today, but pointing out that saying sorry won’t be enough.

James Murdoch, who is CEO of News International, spoke up more and interjected at points when he could see his father was struggling. He did admit that some legal fees had been paid for Glen Mulcaire, the private investigator who was convicted of phone hacking in 2007. Both Rupert and James said that they will look into the contract they have with him to see if they can stop legal payments.

“The closure of a newspaper with a history of 160-some odd years history is something that is a grave thing and something that is a serious matter of regret for us, for the company. But much more serious than that is the seriousness of the violation of privacy, the hurt that certain individuals at the News of the World caused to the victims of illegal voicemail interceptions and their families.” – James Murdoch.

Rebekah Brooks, former CEO of News International, followed and continued the apology which had been put out earlier by her former bosses. Speaking about the closure of News of the World and the job losses, she said we have endeavoured to find a job for every single one of them, they will be offered a job.”

Questions moved to payment to police officers, something which in 2003 she admitted that the paper had done. “I can say I have never paid a policeman myself, I’ve never knowingly sanctioned a payment to a police officer. Brooks went on to clarify what she had said at a select committee hearing in 2003. “At the time of the Home Affairs Select Committee recently you had various crime editors from Fleet Street discussing that, in the past payments have been made to police officers. I was referring to that wide held belief, not a widespread practice.”

In relation to the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone, she said “I just don’t know anyone who would think it was a right and proper thing to do at this time, or at anytime, and I know we know a lot more now but, but that’s all I can tell you.”


Brooks was arrested by police on Sunday and bailed until later this year.
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