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Phone-hacking scandal 'divided the Murdoch family?

By Attracta Mooney

The phone-hacking scandal has reportedly driven a wedge between members of the Murdoch family, which controls News Corp, with Elisabeth blaming her brother James for allowing the situation “to spiral out of control”.

According to an article in Vanity Fair, Elisabeth approached her father Rupert Murdoch, the media conglomerate’s chief executive and chairman, as details emerged about phone-hacking practices at News International, the UK division of News Corp that James oversees.

She allegedly told her father that New International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton, chief executive of Dow Jones, needed to resign, as well as suggesting that James take leave.

Rupert told his son: “Maybe you should go too”, before changing his mind the next day, the article said.

Elisabeth, whose TV production company Shine Group was purchased by New Corp in February, was not in London to advise or support Rupert or James when they appeared before British MPs in July.

The report also alleged that Rupert Murdoch was “seriously considering giving up his CEO title” and making way for son James to succeed him prior to the phone-hacking scandal erupting.

James and his siblings had been in family counselling with a psychologist over the issue of succession since the start of the year, according to the article. The siblings agreed that James was best suited to the chief executive role, although Rupert felt James “needed to learn to exercise better judgment and exhibit some humility”.

“They told James that if they worked together as siblings they could help him and their father have a better relationship, and that together the kids could hold Rupert to account to be a mentor to James and not undermine him,” Vanity Fair contributing editor Sarah Ellison wrote.

The Murdochs control the company through its dual-share structure – the family holds about 40% of the voting rights, but just 12% of the ordinary shares.

Rupert, James and his brother Lachlan were re-elected to the News Corp board in October, despite the majority of non-family shareholders voting against the re-election of the siblings.

Elisabeth had been expected to join the board this year, but in August she suggested her nomination would be “inappropriate”

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