Rupert Murdoch, unperturbed by a shaving cream pie attack in Britain’s Parliament, apologized yesterday for the phone hacking scandal that has engulfed his empire but said he would not resign as he had himself been let down by others.
Murdoch, at times appearing all of his 80 years as he took lengthy pauses before answering questions alongside his 38-year-old son, said he had been ashamed by the allegations and won some sympathy for his apparent remorse.
In a hotly anticipated hearing, the most dramatic moment came after two and half hours when a man appeared to rise from the public area of the committee room and tried to hit the elder Murdoch with a dish of shaving cream.
As James Murdoch rose and police moved in, watched live by millions on television, Rupert Murdoch’s 42-year-old wife Wendi Deng, who had been sitting right behind her husband, leapt forward to slap the man. He was hauled away and the session suspended.
Ten minutes later, the session resumed with an apology from the chairman and a jacketless Rupert Murdoch who continued to answer questions calmly.
At the start of proceedings, the elder Murdoch had rejected personal responsibility for the phone-hacking and corruption scandal but, with his son, said the company was deeply sorry and intended to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
He said he was “shocked, appalled and ashamed” when he read two weeks ago of the case that has transformed the smoldering scandal into a “firestorm,” in the words of Prime Minister David Cameron. It has shaken Britons’ trust in the press, police and politicians, including Cameron himself.
Rebekah Brooks, the former News of the World editor at the time some of the alleged hacking occurred, apologized for the scandal and denied knowing the private investigators at the heart of the allegations. She also dismissed suggestions she had ever made or sanctioned payments to the police.