Friday, July 15, 2011

UK anti-Murdoch campaigner says much work to be done

Phone hacking: Murdoch goes on defensive over 'total lies' by MPs

News Corp chairman uses interview in his own Wall Street Journal to defend handling of News of the World scandal
    Protesters against Rupert Murdoch outside his home on 5th Avenue in New York
    Protesters against Rupert Murdoch outside his home on 5th Avenue in New York. The News Corp chairman has come out in the Wall Street Journal to defend the corporation's handling of the News of the World phone hacking scandal. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images
    Rupert Murdoch has mounted a robust defence of New Corporation's management of the phone-hacking scandal, insisting that the company has handled the crisis "extremely well in every possible way", making only "minor mistakes". As the FBI launched an investigation into allegations that News of the World journalists also tried to hack into the phones of victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York, Murdoch told the Wall Street Journal, which is owned by News Corp: "When I hear something going wrong I insist on it being put right." He said that he would use his appearance before the Commons culture, media and sport committee next Tuesday to challenge "some of the things that have been said in parliament, some of which are total lies". "We think it's important to absolutely establish our integrity in the eyes of the public … I felt that it's best just to be as transparent as possible." Asked whether his son James – who is News Corps deputy chief operating officer – had been too slow in reacting to the crisis, Murdoch said: "I think he acted as fast as he could, the moment he could." He said the company would establish an independent committee headed by a "distinguished non-employee" to investigate all charges of improper conduct. Murdoch used the interview to take Gordon Brown to task for his claims that News International papers including the Sunday Times had illegally obtained information about him and his family. He said the former prime minister had "got it entirely wrong", adding that "the Browns were always friends of ours" until the Sun withdrew its support for Labour before the last election. He dismissed claims that News Corp was considering selling or separating off its newspaper assets as "pure and total rubbish". Asked if he was aggravated by all the negative publicity it had attracted in recent days, he said he was "just getting annoyed ... I'll get over it. I'm tired." Rupert and James Murdoch last night gave in to demands to appear before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee after MPs issued summonses ordering them to appear. The leader of the House, Sir George Young, had warned that in theory at least they could be fined or even imprisoned if they refused. News International's chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, will also appear. The launch of the FBI inquiry amounts to the first official investigation within the US into News Corporation activities. It brings the scandal within Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper division closer to his American home and to News Corp's headquarters in Manhattan. Amid calls from US politicians and relatives of 9/11 victims for a review of the allegations. Peter King, the Republican chairman of the homeland security committee in the House of Representatives, on Wednesday wrote to the director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, asking him to open an investigation of the 9/11 allegations.Read more...

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