'Humbled' Murdoch attacked at UK hearing

Rupert Murdoch was attacked by a protester while giving evidence to a British parliamentary committee.

By REUTERS
July 20, 2011 08:35
3 minute read.
Murdoch attacked

Murdoch Hearing 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)

With a whistleblower dead, the prime minister in retreat, critics emboldened and the world's media looking on, the circumstances could scarcely be more dramatic for Rupert and James Murdoch's appearance before British parliamentarians. And then this.

Proceedings were suspended after what appeared to be a prank. Rupert Murdoch was hit with a plate of white foam - his wife Wendi Deng struck back.

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15 minutes later, the session restarted with an apology to the Murdochs.

John Whittingdale, Chair of Committee on Culture, Media and Sport: "I would like to apologize on behalf of the committe and parliament to you for the way you have been treated..."

Hours earlier, the hearing into allegations of widespread phone hacking at News of the World also started an apology.

James Murdoch, Deputy Chief Operating Officer: "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, Chairman and CEO News Corp: "I would just like to say one sentence. This is the most humble day of my life."

Contrite, yes. But he insists, not complicit. Asked whether he was misled about alleged wrongdoing, Murdoch answered, "Clearly."

Tom Watson, Labour MP: "Mr Murdoch, at what point did you find out that criminality was endemic at News of the World."

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO News Corp: "Endemic is a very hard, a very wide ranging word. I also have to be very careful not to prejudice the course of justice that is taking place now. That that has been disclosed I became aware of as it became apparent. I was absolutely shocked, appalled and ashamed when I heard about the Milly Dowler case only two weeks ago."

PTC: Reporter Matt Cowan: "It was just over two weeks ago that The Guardian newspaper reported that an investigator working for Murdoch's News of the World hacked into the voicemail of murdered teenager Milly Dowler shortly after abduction, deleting messages to make room for more. That gave her parents false hope that Milly was still alive. Until then, the phone hacking saga had failed to capture the public's imagination…but the impact of the shift in sentiment is hard to overstate."

Since then, the 168-year-old tabloid has been shut down, Murdoch has abandoned his bid to take full control of UK broadcaster BSkyB under pressure from politicians, Britain's two top police officers have resigned for not doing enough to investigate allegations of hacking, News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks resigned and has been arrested, former News of the World editor Andy Coulson - who'd also served as a spokesman for the Prime Minister has been arrested - heaping pressure on David Cameron over his judgment.

Jim Sheridan, Labour MP:  "Mr. Murdoch, Do you accept that you are ultimately responsible for this whole fiasco?"

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO News Corporation: "No."

Jim Sheridan, Labour MP: "If you're not responsible, who is responsible?

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO News Corporation: "The people I trusted to run it and maybe then the people they trusted."

Next up, Rebekah Brooks who was arrested on Sunday after quitting her job as chief executive of News International two days earlier.

Rebekah Brooks, Former Chief Executive of News International: "We had been told by people at the News of the World at the time, they'd consistently denied these allegations. It was only when we saw the Sienna Miller documentation that we realized the severity."

PTC: Reporter Matt Cowan: "Prime Minister David Cameron has cut his trade trip to Africa short so he can make his way back to London in time for a parliamentary debate on the phone hacking scandal tomorrow. Then parliament will take a rest for the summer. It's unlikely this story will do the same. Matt Cowan Reuters."


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