UK Lawmakers: Rupert Murdoch Unfit To Lead Company

DAVID STRINGER

LONDON (AP) â¿¿ News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch must take responsibility for serious failings that caused Britain's tabloid phone hacking scandal, lawmakers said Tuesday in a scathing report â¿¿ as a narrow majority also insisted the tycoon was unfit to lead his global media empire.

In a report on the malpractice at Murdoch's now shuttered News of The World tabloid, legislators accused Murdoch and his son James of overseeing a corporate culture which sought "to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing."

Parliament's cross-party Culture, Media and Sport committee unanimously agreed that three key News International executives had misled Parliament by offering false accounts of their knowledge of the extent of phone hacking â¿¿ a rare and serious censure that can see offenders hauled before Parliament to make a personal apology.

The panel said the House of Commons would decide on the punishment meted out to the three executives: New York Daily News editor Colin Myler, an ex-News of The World editor, the British tabloid's longtime lawyer Tom Crone and Les Hinton, the former executive chairman of News International and the former publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

Members of the panel said the 81-year-old Rupert Murdoch had insisted he was unaware that hacking was widespread at the News of The World, blaming his staff for keeping him in the dark.

That explanation was not accepted.

The legislators said if that was true, "he turned a blind eye and exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies."

In a ruling opposed by 4 of the 11-member committee â¿¿ all Conservatives â¿¿ the panel cast serious doubt on Murdoch's credentials as an executive.

"We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company," the report said.

The judgment on Murdoch implies that News Corp., which he heads, is also not fit to control British Sky Broadcasting, in which the company has a controlling stake of 39 percent.

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