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Rupert Murdoch At Leveson: News Corp Boss Admits 'I Failed'

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RUPERT MURDOCH
ITN

Rupert Murdoch has admitted that he "failed" to act over the phone hacking scandal that led to the eventual closure of the News of the World.

On his second day of testimony at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, the media mogul told QC Robert Jay that News International bosses fell victim to a "cover-up" over the hacking scandal.

The proprietor said senior executives were not informed, or misinformed, and "shielded" from what was going on.

"I blame one or two people for that, who perhaps I shouldn't name because for all I know they may be arrested yet," he said.

"But there is no question in my mind that maybe even the editor, but certainly behind that, someone took charge of a cover-up which we were victim to and I regret."

Asked by counsel where the "cover-up" emanated from, the tycoon replied: "I think from within the News of the World. There were one or two very strong characters there who I think had been there many, many years and were friends of the journalists.



"The person I am thinking of was a friend of the journalists, drinking pal, and was a clever lawyer and forbade them to go and see the evidence, or there have been statements reporting that this person forbade people to go and report to Mrs Brooks or James (Murdoch).

"That is not to excuse it on our behalf at all, I take it extremely seriously that that situation had arisen."

Mr Murdoch told the inquiry he had not paid close enough attention to the situation at the now-defunct Sunday tabloid and apologised for what had happened, and to the staff who lost their jobs when he closed the newspaper last July.

"I have to admit that some newspapers are closer to my heart than others but I also have to say that I failed. And I am very sorry about it."

However, the 81-year-old admitted that ultimately "the buck stops" with him. He said he was sorry for the "innocent people" at the News of the World who lost their jobs as a result of the phone hacking scandal, saying he never paid the newspaper enough attention.

Murdoch became riled when giving evidence after Jay suggested his family had wanted a cover up, saying "minds like yours" may think that. He then apologised and withdrew the remarks.

Murdoch also denied that he saw culture secretary Jeremy Hunt as an ally in his company's battle to take over the satellite broadcaster BSkyB. He said he expected Hunt to be a "fairer" judge of the bid than business secretary Vince Cable, who was stripped of the role after being secretly recorded saying he had "declared war" on the News Corp boss.

Murdoch also stood by claims Gordon Brown said he would declare war on News Corp, saying: "As for the conversation, which he's [Brown] denied, I said that very carefully yesterday under oath, and I stand by every word of it."

Later in the testimony, when discussing phone hacking, Murdoch said that what happened at the News of the World was an "aberration", adding that it would be unfair to compare it with The Sun.

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Murdoch's evidence to Leveson has finished. But they'll be more written evidence to delve through online soon.

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Murdoch is told about a journalists who claimed she experienced "constant bullying." He asks why she did not resign.

Leveson interjects, saying: "I think the problem with that might be that she needs a job".

Murdoch says he has "never heard of" allegations of bullying in News International. "They always strike me as a happy crowd."

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Murdoch says no allegations of bullying have been brought to his attention.

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@ paulwaugh : Leveson refuses to allow NUJ lawyer to ask Qs re NI's MSC collusion w cops. But Murdoch says MSC didn't reveal journo sources

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Murdoch says his journalists can join the NUJ at any point.

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@ rowenamason : Some of my channels are better than the BBC, some a lot worse, says Murdoch #Leveson

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He says Murdoch's accusation about Dacre: "I'm going to suggest you've made a mistake in reading something."

But Murdoch said he did not "see the difference," adding: "I think there's no doubt that maybe the Daily Mail and other newspapers were campaigning against it and against us.. That is a commercial reason. They said at the time in their public statement they felt in some commercial danger, if you like, if we succeeded."

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@ Peston : "I've spent hundreds of millions of dollars" on internal investigation, says Murdoch. Really? Can it really be that much. #leveson

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@ mlcalderone : Murdoch claims Huffington Post has just "a few" reporters -- he should come by the newsroom some time! #leveson

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Quite hilariously, Murdoch says his paper the Wall Street Journal is a "challenge to get through." Unsure if he meant it like that. He says they are adding more pictures to it.

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In fact there's more advertising opportunities occurring every year even then there are websites. So the rates stay very low. But it's a fact of life. We have to treat it as an opportunity. The Times of London, seven days a week, we put it on the ipad, we charge for it. Unfortunately apple takes 30% but that's another argument. That can be seen any corner of the world, so maybe there's an opportunity there.

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@ SamiraAhmedUK : Surprise! Rupert Murdoch in his comfort zone now as he blames BBC for its alleged role in declining newspaper sales. #leveson

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Murdoch says it comes down to an argument about intellectual property (but it is a bit unclear what he is talking about). And now, the predictable jibe at the BBC (which does do "great broadcasting").

He says the BBC's website is viewed by 12m people in Britain a week and "feel they have had enough news", saying this is taxpayer funded and affects newspaper circulation.

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@ benfenton : #murdoch apologises for repeating a private conversation with Jay?Leveson that reveals he likes Le Monde and The Times.

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@ PSbook : Murdoch tells #leveson he doesn't have a great understanding of technology. His purchase of Myspace would seem to support that.

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"We're spending a lot of money trying to, and succeeding, in presenting every word of our newspapers on modern tablets. There will be, I will be very confident in saying, that in a very short time.. there will be billions of tablets in the world."

He says other people read news on their smart phones (or as Murdoch refers to them a "smart telephone") but says he thinks printed presses can survive another 20 years with "small" circulations.

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"You said that I had at the very beginning a great understanding of technology. I don't... But the fact is that the internet came along, slowly developed as a source of news and now is absolutely in our space.

"I think it's been responsible for a lot of loss of circulation. I should ask the judge. This inquiry I presume is for the press in this country, not just the press in Fleet Street. We're seeing everybody under extreme pressure."

He adds: "People can send their blogs from Beijing and from the Cayman Islands and whatever you do you can't regulate that. I think you have a danger of regulating, putting regulations in place, which will mean there will be no press in 10 years to regulate."

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The News of the World, let's be quite honest, was an aberration and it's my fault.

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@ christopherhope : #leveson BREAKING MPs on the Commons' Culture Select Committee will publish their long-awaited report on phone hacking on Tuesday, May 1

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@ christopherhope : #Leveson BREAK Cabinet Office confirms Cabinet Secretary and Treasury Solicitor spoke to Leveson on Tues afternoon

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"We set up inquiry after inquiry, we employed legal firm after legal firm. Perhaps we relied too much on the conclusions of the police."

He says News Corp's response to being accused of collective amnesia was "disrespectful to parliament."

He says when he appeared at the select committee last July he said he was the right person to clear it up, and he did. "I have spent hundreds of millions of dollars.... Anything that looked faintly suspicious was passed to the police. That led to, I think, a dozen midnight arrests. Because of my pledge, not because of police. We went way beyond what they'd asked us to do.

"I remain greatly distressed that people who have been with me for 20 or 30 years.. My distress, it would be presumptuous to compare it with the immense disturbance, if you like, and hurt to the people who were arrested. I feel responsible for that but I'm glad we did it."

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@ RobDotHutton : Think Private Eye may need to increase its pagination next week. #leveson

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I think that historically this whole business of the News of the World is a serious blot on my reputation.

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"When the Milly Dowler situation was first given huge publicity, I think all the newspaper took this as the chance to really make a really national scandal. It made people all over the country aware of this..

"I panicked. But I'm glad I did. I'm sorry I didn't close it years before and put a Sunday Sun in. I tell you what held us back - the News of the World readers, only half of them read the Sun."

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@ MASieghart : Tim de Lisle resigned as Arts Editor of The Times when he was pressurised to run a big Sky plug #leveson

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"I don't have any other business interests. I certainly would ask or suggest, I don't think it needs suggesting, the editor of The Sun that it would be good to mention what's coming up in our new paper on Sunday. There is self-promotion in newspapers."

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These are known to be, um, not 100% accurate.

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@ tom_watson : I raised the blackmail point with Murdoch last year and he's claiming he still hasn't read the judgement. Outrageous. #leveson

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He says Andrew Neil, the former Sunday Times editor, doesn't "know the first thing he is talking about."

"Mr Neil seems to have found it very profitable to spread lies about me"

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From a press gazette story in December:

Lord Justice Leveson this afternoon condemned as outrageous an incident in which the News of the World threatened to expose one of the dominatrices involved in the Max Mosley sex party if they didn't cooperate with the paper.

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