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article imageThe damning verdict: Rupert Murdoch 'not fit' to lead News Corp

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By Yukio Strachan     May 2, 2012 in Crime
Rupert Murdoch is not fit to run a major international company, British lawmakers said in a damning report Tuesday, finding him guilty of "willful blindness" towards its staff at the News of the World tabloid.
"The suggestion that Rupert Murdoch is not fit to lead a major international company is an astonishing conclusion," commentator Roy Greenslade, who worked under Murdoch at the Sun and Sunday Times, told Reuters.
The committee's chairman, John Whittingdale delivered the report's findings which said Rupert Murdoch was not fit to run a major international company, which had shown "huge failings" of corporate governance, and it raised questions about the competence of Rupert's 39-year-old son, James.
The report said there had been huge failures in corporate governance which
"News International and its parent News Corporation exhibited willful blindness, for which the companies' directors -including Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch - should ultimately take responsibility," it said.
"We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company."
Murdoch said the report had made difficult reading. "But we have done the most difficult part, which has been to take a long, hard and honest look at our past mistakes."
"There is no easy way around this, but I am proud to say that we have been working hard to put things right," he said in an email to staff.
The damning report found in particular that three senior Murdoch executives misled Parliament in their testimony, according to the New York Times. It also alleges that the company sought to cover up widespread phone hacking that Murdoch’s News of the World, a tabloid newspaper now shut down, used to gather information about politicians, celebrities and other people in the news.
The lawmakers said the 81-year-old News Corp chief showed ''wilful blindness'' about the scale of phone-hacking at its News of the World tabloid and lacked credibility, for which Murdoch and his son James should take responsibility, a British parliamentary report said.
But instead of taking responsibility for how their own actions contributed to the scandal, they blamed lower-ranking executives while “striving to protect more senior figures, most notably James Murdoch.”
The report also accused a former executive chairman, Les Hinton, of being "complicit" in a cover-up at the paper. It also said the company's former legal manager, Tom Crone, and a former editor of The News of the World, Colin Myler, deliberately withheld crucial information and misled the committee in their evidence, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
"Both Tom Crone and Colin Myler deliberately avoided disclosing crucial information to the committee and, when asked to do so, answered questions falsely," MPs concluded.
The revelations of widespread phone hacking for newspaper stories last summer wiped almost 20 percent off News Corp's value in one month and has reduced James Murdoch's chances of taking over his father's $50 billion media empire, which includes the Wall Street Journal, 20th Century Fox and pay-TV operations, Reuters reported.
The Labour MP, Tom Watson said the majority of committee members agreed Rupert Murdoch was not fit to run an international company like BSkyB.
"These people corrupted our country," Tom Watson, a Labour lawmaker and one of Murdoch's harshest critics on the committee said, referring to a police inquiry that has led to the arrests of journalists as well as police officers suspected of taking bribes.
Others defended the disgraced media mogul.
"None of us were able to support the report and we all voted against it," Conservative lawmaker Louise Mensch said, referring to her party members. "It will be correctly seen as a partisan report and we've lost a very great deal of its credibility."
Mensch also said she may have supported the report if it weren't for the particular reference to Rupert Murdoch being unfit to run a major international company.
Barry Diller, who helped Murdoch build the Fox TV and studio business, went even further. He said Murdoch was "more fit, morally and otherwise, to lead an organization than the majority of those that do".
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