U.K. Lawmakers Call Murdoch ‘Not Fit to Lead’

‘Failings of corporate governance’ may affect broadcasting license as well

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Rupert Murdoch was called “not a fit person” to lead a major international corporation by U.K. lawmakers in a report that could also affect the company’s fitness to hold its broadcasting license.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that in its report, the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee said that not only had three executives at the News International unit of News Corp. given misleading testimony to it in 2009, Murdoch himself “turned a blind eye and exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications.”

The committee said, “In his testimony and also the Leveson Inquiry, Rupert Murdoch has demonstrated excellent powers of recall and grasp of detail, when it has suited him.” However, he and his son James had disavowed knowledge of the degree and extent of the phone hacking scandal that has roiled Britain since its discovery in 2006.

Spillover from the scandal is continuing to affect the rest of the company’s business. The committee’s report will fuel the U.K. telecommunications regulator Ofcom’s decision as to whether News Corp. is fit to hold a broadcasting license. Last week Ofcom asked the company for documents from civil cases involving phone hacking as it decides whether the company should reduce its 39% stake in British Sky Broadcasting Group, the largest pay television provider in the U.K.

The committee said the Murdochs must in the end take responsibility for misleading and “not fully truthful” statements made by Les Hinton, Tome Crone and Colin Myler, and also said, “This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organization and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corp.”

The Murdochs had said just last week in testimony about their parts in the scandal that their subordinates, in particular Crone and Myler, were to blame for not having made them aware of what was going on. The panel said, “The News of the World and News International misled the committee about the true nature and extent of the internal investigations they professed to have carried out in relation to phone hacking. Their instinct throughout was to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing.”

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