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James Murdoch Steps Down From News International: Thurlbeck Claims His Heart Wasn't In It

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James Murdoch had been chief executive of News International since 2007
James Murdoch had been chief executive of News International since 2007

James Murdoch's "heart and soul" was never in newspapers, the former chief reporter of the News of the World has claimed, following the announcement Murdoch was stepping down as executive chair of News International.

Murdoch began his job in 2007 after joining News Corp from BSkyB. He was at the top of the company as the phone hacking scandal deepened.

His father announced his departure on Wednesday saying he had made "lasting contributions" to News International and would now focus on "pay-TV businesses and broader international operations.”

Neville Thurlbeck, former News Editor and Chief Reporter at the News of the World told The Huffington Post UK, in comments later posted on his blog, he did not think Murdoch would regret leaving Wapping for good: "There was always the feeling at News International that James Murdoch's heart and soul was never in newspapers.

"He came from the TV sector and he is now returning to it.

"During his presentations to staff, it was all pie charts and graphs of profitability and market share but he conveyed non of the passion for journalism and print of his father.

"For that reason, he was rather unkindly given the nickname of 'Murdoch Lite' at Wapping.

"It is also a useful time to leave News International. Many of his subordinates would love to do so too but are finding themselves burdened with a News Int 'taint'.

"I doubt he will regret leaving Wapping. It is a unique characteristic among those who do, that they feel unburdened. You never hear a former News Int staffer say, 'I wish I was back in Wapping'," he said.

Martin Moore, of the Hacked Off Campaign told The Huffington Post UK Murdoch's decision was a symbolic move that was being "overplayed".

"I think it's a non-story," he said. "He effectively left last year. He was planning to go to New York from before July last year. It was postponed in fact because of what happened in July.

"We still don't know what James did and didn't know last year. It's a distraction from the important stuff. We learned on Monday that according to the head of the police operation there was a culture of illegal payments which were sanctioned at a senior level at The Sun. That's something that will have a lot more repercussions than the symbolic resignation of James Murdoch."

Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman said he had "no option but to go" after "shocking" revelations at Leveson this week.

"The practices at News International have stained the proud tradition of the British press. We must ensure that all offences are brought to justice and that a proper framework for press complaints is established.

"But never again must we allow any individual or organisation to acquire such a concentration of power when it comes to media ownership.

"Labour supports a robust, free and independent press but one which abides by the law and the press complaints code."

Lib Dem Co-Chair of the parliamentary policy committee on culture, media and sport, Don Foster said: “James Murdoch’s resignation has all the appearances of being bundled in a car, away from the scene of the crime.

“There still are unanswered questions on James Murdoch’s knowledge of phone hacking at the News of the World.

“He must make clear that his move to New York will not be a barrier to getting answers and his taking responsibility for what happened on his watch.”

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