Rupert Murdoch speaks out over phone hacking as shareholder tensions rise

CEO and Chairman of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch has spoken to shareholders about the phone hacking scandal.

Speaking at the annual meeting of shareholders in Los Angeles, the boss said that there was “no excuse” for the behaviour of some of the staff back at News International (a subsidiary of News Corp). The scandal relating to phone hacking forced them to close News of the World and withdraw their bid to take full control of British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB).

Over the past few months, we have been the subject of much attention over allegations that a number of our journalists in Britain had broken the law by hacking personal telephone voicemails. There is simply no excuse for unethical behaviour. – Murdoch in his opening address to the shareholders.

He went on to defend the 168-year-old Sunday tabloid which he decided to close following the allegations which began in June. The three other titles from News International, The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times continue to print and sell despite the furore which surrounds the parent company.

“We closed “The News of the World” at financial cost to our company and to the many fine and innocent journalists who played by the rules and broke no law… the only thing they broke were great stories. They launched important campaigns, uncovered political scandals and held the powerful to account. Still, closing “The News of the World” was the right thing to do.”

Shareholders in the multi-billion pound company have been trying to force Murdoch and his sons (who sit on the board) out of the company. A motion to separate the role of Chairman and Chief Executive was rejected and all the directors who sit on the board were re-elected.

Murdoch went on to say that the police investigation into phone hacking is continuing and says that the company continues to cooperate. The matter will continue to unfold in coming months, with the British legal system determining the timing of events. We are cooperating very closely with London’s Metropolitan Police, and the cases are in their thorough and competent hands.

Labour MP Tom Watson who attended the meeting posed new allegations to Murdoch relating to reporters hacking computers and email systems. Murdoch says that he will investigate to see if the allegations are true. Tom Watson has been at the forefront of the story and questioned Murdoch at the Media Select Committee earlier this year. He was recently appointed Deputy Chair and Campaign Coordinator of the Labour party.