British lawmakers slam Rupert and James Murdoch for being more interested in covering up hacking than rooting out illegal practices at their U.K. tabloids
In a blistering report on phone hacking and bribery at News Corp.'s British tabloids, the U.K. Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Committee concluded Tuesday that Rupert Murdoch is "not a fit person" to lead his sprawling media empire.
Murdoch and his son James Murdoch exhibited "willful blindness" when it came to cleaning up the illegal hacking taking place at its papers and publications, the report found.
"This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organisation and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International," the study found. "We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company."
The 121-page report examined whether or not News Corp. executives had lied to the committee during its 2009 investigation into phone-hacking and found that both the corporation and three of its former executives had misled parliament.
It paints a picture of a dangerously detached collection of executives, extending all the way up to the Murdoch family, that were more concerned with brushing thorny legal and ethical issues under the rug than they were with rooting out the people engaging in hacking and bribery.
"Corporately, the News of the World and News International misled the Committee about the true nature and extent of the internal investigations they professed to have carried out in relation to phone hacking; by making statements they would have known were not fully truthful; and by failing to disclose documents which would have helped expose the truth," the report reads.
"Their instinct throughout, until it was too late, was to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing and discipline the perpetrators, as they also professed they would do after the criminal convictions," it adds.
In a statement, a spokesman for News Corp. said that the company was currently reviewing the report and would respond shortly, but offered an apology to the hacking victims.
"The Company fully acknowledges significant wrongdoing at News of the World and apologizes to everyone whose privacy was invaded," News Corp. said.
The executives cited for misleading the committee were Les Hinton, who oversaw News International from 1995 to 2007; Colin Myler, editor of News of the World from 2007 to its closure in 2011; and Tom Crone, legal manager of News Group Newspapers for 20 years.
The 10 person committee approved the report by a vote of six to four. Conservatives on the committee reportedly disapproved of language saying that Rupert Murdoch was unfit to lead News Corp.