LONDON (Reuters) – Rupert Murdoch and his son James apologised to the parliament today over a hacking scandal that has engulfed News Corp.
Following are highlights of their testimony to the House of Commons committee on Culture, Media and Sport.
James Murdoch: “First of all I would just like to say how sorry I am and how sorry we are to particularly the victims of the illegal voicemail interceptions and to their families.
“It is a matter of great regret, of mine, of my father’s, and everyone at News Corporation. These actions do not live up to the standards that our company aspires to everywhere around the world and it is our determination to put things right, to make sure these things do not happen again and to be the company that I know we have always aspired to be.”
Rupert Murdoch: “I would just like to say one sentence. This is the most humble day of my life.”
James Murdoch: “I have no knowledge and there is no evidence that I am aware of that Mrs Brooks or Mr Hinton or any of those executives had knowledge of that and their assertions, certainly Mrs Brooks’ assertion to me, of her knowledge of those things has been clear. Nonetheless those resignations have been accepted on the basis that there is no evidence today that I have seen or that I have any knowledge of, that there was any impropriety by them.”
James Murdoch: “It was in the due process of that civil trial and the civil litigation process that evidence really emerged for us, and we acted and the company acted as swiftly and transparently as possible.”
Asked if he was mislead:
Rupert Murdoch: “Very. This is not an excuse. Maybe it’s an explanation of my laxity. The News of the World is less than one percent of our company. I employ 53,000 people around the world who are proud and great and ethical and distinguished people, professionals.”
Rupert Murdoch: “I was absolutely shocked, appalled and ashamed when I heard about the Milly Dowler case only two weeks ago.”
Asked if he has commissioned an investigation into allegations the FBI is investigating 9/11 hacking:
Rupert Murdoch: “We have seen no evidence of that at all and as far as we know the FBI haven’t either. I cannot believe that it happened to anyone in America.”
Asked if he would commission an investigation should the allegations turn out to be true in any way:
Rupert Murdoch: “Absolutely.”
Asked if News International would launch a new Sunday tabloid:
James Murdoch: “There are no immediate plans for that … That is not the company’s priority now. This is not the time to be worrying about that.”
Rupert Murdoch: “It doesn’t get away from our apologies or our blame for anything but this country does greatly benefit from having a competitive press and therefore having a very transparent society. That is sometimes very inconvenient to people but I think we are better and stronger for it.”
Asked if they would think more carefully about the wording of headlines in future:
Rupert Murdoch: “I think all our editors certainly will. I am not aware of any transgressions. It is a matter of taste.
“We have in this country a wonderful variety of voices and they are naturally very competitive. I am sure there are headlines which can occasionally give offence but it’s not intentional.”
Asked if familiar with the legal term “wilful blindness”:
Rupert Murdoch: “I’ve heard of the phrase before and we were not ever guilty of that.”
Asked how often he speaks to the editors of his papers?
Rupert Murdoch: “Very seldom.”
Says sometimes calls the editor of The News of the World on a Saturday night, nearly always calls editor of Sunday Times on a Saturday night.
“Not to influence what he has to say at all. I am very careful to always premise any remark saying ‘I’m just enquiring'”
“I’m not really in touch. An editor I’ve spent most time with is the editor of the Wall Street Journal.”
“To say we’re hands off is wrong. I work 10 or 12 hours a day and I can’t tell you the multitude of issues I have to handle every day.”