May 1, 2012

Parliamentary report | News Corp. response | The Guardian | CNN | PressGazette
Rupert Murdoch showed “willful blindness” to the problem of phone hacking within his company, says a report from Britain’s Parliament that was released today. It called him “not a fit person” to run his massive news empire. The full report is here, and the Guardian is live-blogging the reverberations. The PressGazette in the U.K. is reporting key findings, including:

• Former Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton “misled the committee in 2009 in not telling the truth about payments” to Clive Goodman, a News of the World reporter who was imprisoned for phone-hacking but paid a large sum by News International on his release.

• Both former News Corp. legal honcho Tom Crone and former News of the World editor Colin Myler (who is now editor of the New York Daily News) “misled the Committee by answering questions falsely about their knowledge of evidence that other News of the World employees had been involved in phone-hacking and other wrongdoing.”

• “In failing to investigate properly, and by ignoring evidence of widespread wrongdoing, News International and its parent News Corporation exhibited willful blindness, for which the companies’ directors—including Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch—should ultimately be prepared to take responsibility.”

The Guardian reports that no testimony in the inquiry was taken under oath. Penalties for Myler, Crone and Hinton could include being taken inside the Parliament building and being forced to apologize. This punishment is “so rare the last time this happened was in 1956 when Sir John Junor had to apologise about an article he’d written in the Sunday Express about petrol allowances,” Lucy Manning writes.

The ruling could affect Rupert Murdoch’s ability to hold a broadcasting license in the U.K. Ofcom, which regulates communications industries in Britain, issued a statement saying it “has a duty under the Broadcasting Acts 1990 and 1996 to be satisfied that any person holding a broadcasting licence is, and remains, fit and proper to do so. Ofcom is continuing to assess the evidence – including the new and emerging evidence – that may assist it in discharging these duties.”

In a statement, News Corporation said it “is carefully reviewing the Select Committee’s report” and “fully acknowledges significant wrongdoing at the News of the World and apologizes to everyone whose privacy was invaded.”

Correction: This post originally stated that the report was from the Leveson Inquiry. It is from the Culture, Media and Sport committee of the Parliament.

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City…
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