A select committee of British MPs has declared Rupert Murdoch “not fit” to run an international company after concluding that he displayed “wilful blindness” to illegal phone hacking practices across his media empire.
The MPs, from the cross-party Culture Media and Sport select committee, concluded in their report that a culture of covering up criminal activity had “permeated from the top throughout the organization” and that both Rupert and James Murdoch should take personal responsibility.
The committee also said that former News International chairman Les Hinton was “complicit” in a cover-up while former News of the World Editor Colin Myler, and the head of the paper’s legal team Tom Crone, had deliberately misled parliament when they appeared before the committee. Both executives are expected to be recalled before MPs to apologize, a constitutional procedure that has not been used for almost half a century.
While the committee was damning of News International it was split on criticisms of Murdoch. In a reminder of the deep links between News International and the Tories, five Conservative MPs, led by Louise Mensch, refused to endorse any direct criticism of Murdoch.
The report will have repercussions for the Murdoch empire beyond Britain. In the United States campaigners are now calling for the Federal Communications Commission to revoke the 27 Fox broadcasting licenses which News Corporation currently holds.
The report will put more pressure on Murdoch. However, a forced apology from former executives and empty rhetoric from MPs is not enough. A genuinely independent and democratically accountable enquiry, with trade union representation, is needed if the true extent of the cover up at News International is to be revealed.
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