Swindon AdvertiserMurdoch 'not fit' to run company (From Swindon Advertiser)

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Murdoch 'not fit' to run company

Swindon Advertiser: Rupert Murdoch showed 'wilful blindness' towards the wrongdoing in his organisation, a committee of MPs said Rupert Murdoch showed 'wilful blindness' towards the wrongdoing in his organisation, a committee of MPs said

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has been branded by MPs as not "a fit person" to run a major international corporation.

The highly contentious report into the News of the World phone hacking scandal caused a split in the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee on party lines, with Tory members refusing to back all of its findings.

The committee did agree unanimously that its inquiry had been misled by Mr Murdoch's News Corp media empire in a "blatant fashion".

But Conservative MPs refused to support the report after Labour and Lib Dems pushed through the finding criticising Mr Murdoch by a vote of six to four.

Labour MP Tom Watson, who tabled the amendment, said he was disappointed that the Conservatives had been unwilling to support him. "These people corrupted our country. They brought shame on our police force and our Parliament. They lied, they cheated, blackmailed and bullied and we should all be ashamed when we think how we cowered before them for too long," he said.

Conservative Louise Mensch said Mr Watson's insistence on putting an amendment "wildly outside the scope" of the inquiry had undermined the report's credibility. "That will mean it will be correctly seen as a partisan report and will have lost a very great deal of its credibility, which is an enormous shame," she said.

The committee did agree that three former executives of News Corp's UK newspaper arm News International - Les Hinton, Colin Myler and Tom Crone - had misled it. It said it could now ask the House of Commons to decide whether there had been a contempt of Parliament and what the punishment should be.

The committee also agreed that suggestions that Mr Murdoch and his son James realised only in December 2010 that hacking was not confined to "one rogue reporter" were "simply astonishing".

The most contentious element of the report was the section dealing with Rupert Murdoch's personal responsibility, which said: "On the basis of the facts and evidence before the committee, we conclude that, if at all relevant times Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone hacking, he turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications. 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. We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company," the report said.

Mrs Mensch said she would have supported the report as a whole if that conclusion had not been included, even though she voted against other findings. The committee also split over findings that James Murdoch had shown "wilful ignorance" and that after its "one rogue reporter" defence failed, the company had sought to protect him and other "more senior figures".

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