James Murdoch blames subordinates for hacking scandal

James Murdoch blames subordinates for hacking scandal

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MUMBAI: James Murdoch, the scion of media empire News Corporation, has distanced himself from the phone hacking scandal at UK publishing business News International by putting the blame on his subordinates who he alleged misled him on the goings-on at the now defunct News of the World tabloid.

Speaking under oath at Lord Justice Brian Leveson?s inquiry into media ethics, Murdoch alleged that the tabloid?s then-editor Colin Myler and the company?s former in-house lawyer Tom Crone misled him about the illegal activities at the tabloid.

According to Associated Press, Leveson asked Murdoch: "Can you think of a reason why Mr. Myler or Mr. Crone should keep this information from you? Was your relationship with them such that they may think: ?Well we needn?t bother him with that? or ?We better keep it from it because he?ll ask to cut out the cancer??"

"That must be it," Murdoch said. "I would say: ?Cut out the cancer,? and there was some desire to not do that."

The News Corp has been at the centre of scandal ever since it came to light that reporters at the News of the World hacked into the phones of hundreds of high-profile people, including a teenage murder victim.

The emergence of the scandal led News International to shut 168 year old News of the World on 7 July last year leading to a loss of 200 jobs.

For News Corp the implications of hacking scandal ran beyond News International as the move to up stake in UK broadcasting business BSkyB proved futile even after it got culture minister?s Jeremy Hunt to gobble up the remaining 61 per cent of Sky for ?8 billion.

Murdoch also denied the charge The Sun newspaper endorsed the Tories? election bid saying, "I would never have made that kind of a crass calculation," Murdoch said. "It just wouldn?t occur to me".

Rupert Murdoch, who is still chairman and chief executive of News International?s parent company News Corp, is scheduled to appear before the inquiry on Wednesday, AP reported.

Earlier, James Murdoch had to step down as the chairman of BSkyB, while continuing to remain on BSkyB?s board as a non-executive director. In February the Jr Murdoch stepped down as executive chairman of News International.

To firewall him from the likely impact of the scandal, News Corp had relocated him to New York headquarters as the deputy COO of the parent company.

Jr. Murdoch had last month further cut off all remaining ties with News International, the UK publishing business of News Corp, by resigning from the boards of Times Newspaper Holdings; News Corp Investments; and News International Publishers Limited.

The British media regulator Ofcom is already evaluating whether James Murdoch is ?fit and proper? to hold a broadcast licence on behalf of BSkyB. The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee?s report into allegations of phone hacking by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, in a related development the judge Brian Leveson said British Sky Broadcasting?s Sky News channel breached criminal law by hacking into e-mails for a story, even though the investigation applied to a case on a man who faked his own death to collect insurance money.

"What you were doing wasn?t just invading somebody?s privacy, it was breaching the criminal law," Leveson said during testimony by Sky News chief John Ryley. "At the end of the day you committed a crime."

Media regulator Ofcom said on Monday it started a probe of Sky News over the e-mail hacking incident.

BSkyB said earlier this month executives at Sky News cleared a reporter to access e-mails as part of his investigations into criminal activity, including the 2008 case of a British couple who faked the husband?s death in a canoe accident to collect life and mortgage insurance.

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