Maybe the third time’s the charm.
Les Hinton, the long-time friend and aide to News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, will testify before the UK Parliament yet again with regard to the phone hacking scandal. This time it will be via video link on Oct. 24.
Hinton, who served as executive chairman of News Corp.’s UK publishing arm News International while most of the hacking is suspected to have occurred, testified both in 2007 and 2009 that the hacking was limited to one reporter. That has since proven to be erroneous.
Given that Hinton oversaw investigations into hacking at the company, specifically at News International’s now-shuttered and shamed News of the World tabloid, this has raised doubts about what Hinton really knew.
The extent of Hinton’s knowledge has been put under greater scrutiny since the hacking scandal reignited in July, leading to his resignation that same month. It has also raised questions about what Murdoch knew given the relationship between the two men.
Hinton worked for Murdoch for more than 50 years. After Murdoch bought Dow Jones & Co., which oversees the Wall Street Journal, Murdoch installed his long-time confidant as its CEO and the Journal’s publisher.
John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, has said he wants Hinton’s testimony before James Murdoch, Rupert’s son and Chairman and CEO of News Corp. Europe and Asia, testifies for a second time.
James Murdoch appeared alongside his father in August, but two former News International employees then claimed and eventually testified that Murdoch may have deceived the committee.
While the UK authorities look for more evidence in their own phone hacking inquiries, shareholders in the United States continue to exert pressure on Rupert Murdoch and the News Corp. board.
The Institutional Shareholder Services, a shareholder advisory firm, said Monday that 13 of the 15 members of the News Corp. board should be replaced. That includes Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan.
Only recent additions Joel Klein, who is overseeing an internal investigation, and James Breyer were deemed acceptable.
Glass Lewis, another advisory firm, recommended last week that shareholders replace James, Lachlan and four other board members. It aso said that an independent director should serve as chairman of the board, displacing Rupert Murdoch from that position.
News Corp. has since issued a statement saying that it disagrees with these assessments.
Despite what its critics may desire, the Murdochs still face little danger of losing their control over the company. Though it owns just 12 percent of the company’s shares, the Murdoch family owns 40 percent of the voting shares.