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Murdochs Knew Nothing of Phone Hacking

Rupert Murdoch (left) & James Murdoch (right)On Tuesday, Rupert Murdoch and son James stood before Parliament to answer questions about the phone hacking scandal at News of the World, the British tabloid operated by News International, which is owned under the US-based News Corporation umbrella. Rupert, the chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, and James, the deputy chief operating officer who oversees News International, both pleaded ignorance involving the scandal.

While being questioned by the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, Rupert said that standing before Parliament was the most humble day of his life. However, he seemed to know little about what was going on at News of the World. James also repeatedly said that he was just as surprised as any to hear that Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who hacked into victims’ and their families’ voice messages for stories, was being paid by the newspaper.

James noted that he has been advised by legal aide that paying co-defendants’ legal fees in civil cases is customary. When the pair were asked about the contribution to legal costs for Mulcaire, both said they want to stop it. Rupert said that they will if they aren’t breaching a legal contract, while James says he doesn’t know what the investigator’s contract is or what the paper is doing now.

The Murdochs aren’t the only ones who have been questioned about the happenings at News of the World. After the pair spoke, Rebekah Brooks, the tabloid’s former editor and now former chief executive of News International, denied knowing anything about Milly Dowler’s phone being hacked, at which time she was the editor of the paper. This followed her arrest by police investigating the scandal on Sunday.

Brooks said that she doesn’t know anyone that would authorise such a thing or even think it was proper and right to do at all. She noted that she didn’t sanction or condone phone hacking while she was editor, and that’s all that she could tell the Committee. She believes, however, that News International acted quickly and properly on the crisis. Brooks also offered a personal apology for what happened at News of the World. The events are clearly pretty abhorrent and horrific, she added.

Earlier in the hearing, it was said by Tom Watson MP that Brooks admitted in 2003 that reporters had paid police to get information. Rupert said that he wasn’t aware of that, but that he is now.

Meanwhile, the man who blew the whistle on the scandal was found dead on Monday at his home. Sean Hoare was a former journalist for News of the World and is said to have been the first to accuse Andy Coulson, the editor of the paper, of knowing about the phone hacking. Police are investigating Hoare’s death, but they don’t believe it to be suspicious.

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