Rupert Murdoch admits phone hacking cover up
Rob Houglum LeadLinkMedia.com Thursday, April 26, 2012
Rupert Murdoch has confessed to the Leveson investigation there had been a "cover-up" at Stories World over the phone-hacking scandal.
Murdoch, the news Co chairman and Manager, giving his second day of evidence to the investigation in London, said that he was "misinformed and shielded" from what was going on at the News of the Earth, adding that there was a "cover-up".
Robert Jay QC, counsel to the investigation, said there had been a consistent theme of cover-up during the phone-hacking scandal, and asked Murdoch where he believed this emanated from. "I think from inside the news of the World," he answered.
Murdoch declared there were "one or 2 very powerful characters" on the now-defunct Sunday paper who, according to reported statements, had banned folk from talking to Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch, at the time Stories Global Chief Executive and head honcho respectively.
Murdoch asserted a Stories of the Planet editor was appointed referring to Colin Myler, although he did not name him at that point "with specific instructions to discover what was going on". "He did, I believe, put in two or three new steps of regulation but never reported back that there had been more hacking than we had been told."
Myler was appointed in January 2007, after the News of the Planet royal newshound, Clive Goodman, and PI Glenn Mulcaire admitted telephone hacking and went to prison. His predecessor, Andy Coulson, denied any awareness of telephone hacking but resigned, exclaiming he took responsibilty for what occurred.
Murdoch said to the investigation Myler "would not have been my choice" and he was the choice of Les Hinton, who at the time was News International's executive boss. He claimed he suspected at the time there were stronger applicants from Stories International sister title the Sun.
Jay then questioned if Myler was a puny individual and wrong man for the job. "I would say that was a slight exaggeration," responded Murdoch. "I would hope Mr Myler would do what he was commissioned to do."
When asked by Jay whether Reports Company had managed the legal likelihood of phone hacking by covering it up, Murdoch responded : "No. There was no attempt either at my level or one or two levels below to cover it up. We set up investigation after inquiry, we employed legal firm after legal firm. Maybe we relied too much on the conclusions of the police.
"Our reply was far too defensive and worse, disrespectful of parliament."
Murdoch later exposed he wished that he had closed the news of the Planet earlier and also admitted he panicked when the phone-hacking affair blew up into a major scandal in July 2011.
"When the Milly Dowler [story] was first given gigantic PR, I think papers took the chance to make this a huge national scandal. It made folks all over the land conscious of this, you could feel the blast coming in the window," he told the inquiry.
"I'll say it succinctly : I panicked, but I am glad I did. And I'm sorry I didn't close it years before and put a Sun on Sun. in. I tell you what held us back : Stories of the Earth readers. Only half them read the Sun. Only 1 / 4, regular."
Murdoch said he also made a major mistake listening to lawyers when Goodman alleged that others on the News of the World knew about the phone hacking.
"I should have thrown all of the lawyers out of the place and seen Mr Goodman one on one and cross-examined him myself and made up my mind, perhaps correctly or wrongly, was he being truthful? And if I had come to the opinion that he was being truthful, I would have gone in and ripped the place apart and we wouldn't be here today," he explained.
Earlier in the hearing, Murdoch concluded with Jay that the phone-hacking scandal had forced Reports Corp to drop its debatable £8bn takeover bid for BSkyB in July 2011.
He told the Leveson investigation the scandal spiralled into a "great, state" issue after it emerged the Stories of the World intercepted the voicemail messages of the murdered teenager Milly Dowler.
Reports Corp withdrew its bid for BSkyB in July last year, nine days after the Guardian disclosed that Dowler's telephone had been hacked by the Sun. tabloid.
Asked by Jay whether the Dowler claims eventually derailed the bid, Murdoch expounded : "Well, I don't know whether we are able to put it down to the Milly Dowler misfortune, but the hacking scandal, yes."
He added : "The hacking scandal wasn't a great countrywide thing until the Milly Dowler declaration, half which - look, I am not making any excuses for it at all, but half that has been rather disowned by the police."
Murdoch also said he was surprised at the extent of lobbying of the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt's office by Fred Michel, the news Company public affairs executive, while the Sky takeover bid was under regulatory perusal between June 2010 and July 2011.
Murdoch declined to criticise Michel, but said he could have used "a bit of exaggeration" to tell his boy James about his claimed nearness to the culture secretary.
Michel's activities were disclosed in a series of mails between him and James Murdoch, the news Corp assistant chief operating officer, that were submitted to the Leveson investigation and revealed on Monday.
Hunt's special adviser who dealt with Michel during the Sky bid, Adam Smith, resigned on Wed..
Hunt made a statement to the Commons protecting his conduct over the takeover bid, but is still facing calls from Labour leader Ed Miliband to.
Tags: Rupert Murdoch, phone hacking, cover up, FOX NEWS