Rupert Murdoch, the 81-year-old patriarch of family-controlled News Corporation, has been branded unfit to lead a major international company by British MPs.
Members of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, in a report published on 1 May, said Murdoch turned “a blind eye” and “exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications”.
The culture of “willful blindness”, the committee said, “permeated from the top throughout the organisation and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International”.
Media conglomerate News Corp’s British division, News International, is currently being investigated for phone hacking.
The report goes on to say that Murdoch, whose family controls about 40% of News Corp’s voting rights, “is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company”. The Conservative members of the committee voted against the inclusion of this sentence.
The committee was also critical of Murdoch’s son James, who headed News International, accusing him of a “wilful ignorance” – a statement Conservative members also voted against.
Update (2 May): Responding to the committee’s findings, News Corp said in a statement that “hard truths” had emerged from the report, such as the “serious wrongdoing at the News of the World”. It also acknowledged that its response was “too slow and too defensive” and that some staff members may have misled the committee in 2009.
But, it added: “News Corporation regrets, however, that the select committee's analysis of the factual record was followed by some commentary that we, and indeed several members of the committee, consider unjustified and highly partisan.”
News Corp is already “acting on the failings”, putting in place new internal controls and compliance programmes, the statement also said.