Rebekah Brooks, Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch, Sir Paul Stephenson, John Yates And Others All Appear Before Parliament
Rupert Murdoch turned on those he "trusted" but kept Rebekah Brooks' name in the clear as MPs held a day of dramatic hearings over the News of the World phone hacking scandal.
In striking scenes Murdoch was attacked by demonstrator who burst into a select committee session.
The intruder Jonathan May-Bowles, threw what appeared to be a plate of shaving foam at Murdoch and called him "greedy". He was blocked by Murdoch's wife Wendi, who attempted to hit her husband's attacker, and Murdoch's son James.
At the opening of the session, the News Corp CEO and Chairman described his appearance as the "most humble day" of his life.
MPs were placated by the apology but struck by what Murdoch did not know. He told MPs:
- He was unaware of News of the World reporter Neville Thurlbeck being found guilty of blackmail.
- He was shocked and appalled when he heard about the Milly Dowler case
- He was unaware of payments made to Gordon Taylor for privacy claims
Murdoch said he was not ultimately responsible for the scandal and blamed it on the people he "trusted", and the people they in turn trusted.
But he stood by Les Hinton, the recently resigned Dow Jones chief and former News International chief executive, saying that he would trust him with his life, and the recently resigned Brooks.
The most striking admission that came out of the session was that the company had paid the legal fees of the private detective accused of hacking the phone of murder victim Milly Dowler, Glen Mulcaire, and Clive Goodman, the reporter jailed for phone hacking.
Rebekah Brooks also expressed deep regret, saying she found it “abhorent” that the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler was hacked by the paper she edited at the time. She told MPs she knew no one who would believe it "a right and proper thing to do".
"I think that was probably the most shocking thing I'd heard for a long time and certainly the most shocking thing I'd heard about potential journalists who worked for News International."
She said there was a “process” around every story published and hacking was never “condoned” when she edited the News of the World.
"It would not have been the case that someone said 'oh yes, that came from an illegal voicemail interception',... at the time it wasn't a practice that was condoned or sanctioned at the News of the World under my editorship."
Brooks also said:
- She had never been horse riding by the prime minister
- George Osborne, not her, recommended David Cameron employ Andy Coulson
- The police and the press had a 'symbiotic' relationship
Before Rebekah Brooks, James and Rupert Murdoch , scandal hit police chiefs, Dick Fedorcio, John Yates and Paul Stephenson gave an account of their links to News International.
Yates and Stephenson, who both resigned their positions earlier in the week, both told the Home Affairs Select Committee they would have behaved differently with hindsight.
"With hindsight" were the watchwords of the afternoon at the Home Affairs Select Committee, as they grilled the outgoing Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson, outgoing Assistant Commissioner John Yates, and current head of public affairs (for now, at least), Dick Fedorcio.
With hindsight all three of the police witnesses would have done things differently. With hindsight Neil Wallis - a former journalist who'd worked under Andy Coulson - shouldn't have been hired by the police as a PR consultant. With hindsight the first investigation into phone hacking was clearly flawed and inadequate.
Yates also shifted the focus onto David Cameron’s chief of staff Ed Llwyelln. He told the home affairs committee the prime minister’s chief of staff Ed Llewellyn blocked an opportunity to brief David Cameron on "police protocol" surrounding the phone hacking case.
He told MPs nearly one quarter of the Metropolitan Police’s press staff had worked for News International at some point.