Parliament gets Murdoch, Murdoch gets pie’d (UPDATED)

News Corp Chief Executive and Chairman, Rupert Murdoch appears before a parliamentary committee on phone hacking at Portcullis House in London July 19, 2011.

Rupert Murdoch and his son James apologized to the British parliament on Tuesday over a hacking scandal that has engulfed News Corp.

Following are highlights of their testimony to the House of Commons committee on Culture, Media and Sport.

JAMES MURDOCH: “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: “I would just like to say one sentence. This is the most humble day of my life.”

JAMES MURDOCH: “I have no knowledge and there is no evidence that I am aware of that Mrs Brooks or Mr Hinton or any of those executives had knowledge of that and their assertions, certainly Mrs Brooks’ assertion to me, of her knowledge of those things has been clear. Nonetheless those resignations have been accepted on the basis that there is no evidence today that I have seen or that I have any knowledge of, that there was any impropriety by them.”

JAMES MURDOCH: “It was in the due process of that civil trial and the civil litigation process that evidence really emerged for us, and we acted and the company acted as swiftly and transparently as possible.”

RUPERT MURDOCH: Asked if he was mislead: “Very”.

“This is not an excuse. Maybe it’s an explanation of my laxity. The News of the World is less than one percent of our company. I employ 53,000 people around the world who are proud and great and ethical and distinguished people, professionals.”

RUPERT MURDOCH: “I was absolutely shocked, appalled and ashamed when I heard about the Milly Dowler case only two weeks ago.”

RUPERT MURDOCH: Asked if he has commissioned an investigation into allegations the FBI is investigating 9/11 hacking: “We have seen no evidence of that at all and as far as we know the FBI haven’t either. I cannot believe that it happened to anyone in America.”

Asked if he would commission an investigation should the allegations turn out to be true in any way: “Absolutely.”

JAMES MURDOCH: Asked if News International would launch a new Sunday tabloid:

“There are no immediate plans for that … That is not the company’s priority now. This is not the time to be worrying about that.”

RUPERT MURDOCH: “It doesn’t get away from our apologies or our blame for anything but this country does greatly benefit from having a competitive press and therefore having a very transparent society. That is sometimes very inconvenient to people but I think we are better and stronger for it.”

RUPERT MURDOCH: Asked if they would think more carefully about the wording of headlines in future: “I think all our editors certainly will. I am not aware of any transgressions. It is a matter of taste.”

“We have in this country a wonderful variety of voices and they are naturally very competitive. I am sure there are headlines which can occasionally give offence but it’s not intentional.”

RUPERT MURDOCH: Asked if familiar with the legal term “willful blindness”: “I’ve heard of the phrase before and we were not ever guilty of that.”

RUPERT MURDOCH: Asked how often he speaks to the editors of his papers? “Very seldom.”

Says sometimes calls the editor of The News of the World on a Saturday night, nearly always calls editor of Sunday Times on a Saturday night.

“Not to influence what he has to say at all. I am very careful to always premise any remark saying ‘I’m just enquiring’”

“I’m not really in touch. An editor I’ve spent most time with is the editor of the Wall Street Journal.”

“To say we’re hands off is wrong. I work 10 or 12 hours a day and I can’t tell you the multitude of issues I have to handle very day.”

RUPERT MURDOCH: Asked who he blamed for the closure of the News of the World and pulling out of a bid to take full control of BSkyB: “A lot of people had different agendas I think in trying to build this hysteria. All our competitors in this country formally announced a consortium to try to stop us and they caught us with dirty hands and they got the story around.”

Asked if it was therefore his competitors that stopped him: “No. I think a mood developed which made it really impractical to go ahead.”

“A lot of people had different agendas I think in trying to build this hysteria … A mood developed which made it really impractical to go ahead (with the BSkyB bid).”

JAMES MURDOCH: Asked if News International made any payments to Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire after their convictions: “I was very surprised to find the company had made certain contributions to legal fees around that and I was surprised, very surprised to find out that that had occurred. They were done, as I understand it, in accordance with legal counsel and strong advice.”

“I do not know who signed the checks.”

“The strong legal advice was that from time to time it’s important, and customary even, to pay co-defendants’ legal fees and I have to rest on counsel’s advice in some of these serious litigation matters.”

“I don’t know the precise status (of whether still paying Mulcaire’s legal fees) but I do know that I have asked for the company to find a way for those things to cease.”

RUPERT MURDOCH: Asked if he will instruct a halt to any legal fees still being paid: “Provided it is not in breach of a legal contract, yes.”

UPDATE: Wire reports are stating that a man threw a white plate covered with shaving cream at Rupert Murdoch, before being punched by Murdoch’s wife Wendi Deng. The man has been arrested.

A screengrab of the attacker:

And video:


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