Murdoch says newspaper covered up scandal

April 26, 2012 at 7:23 AM
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LONDON, April 26 (UPI) -- Media mogul Rupert Murdoch told a panel probing the British phone-hacking scandal he was misled and thought at least one person was covering up the situation.

Murdoch testified for a second day Thursday before a public inquiry led by Lord Justice Brian Leveson into the leviathan phone-hacking scandal that led to the shuttering of one of Murdoch's newspapers, several inquiries by Parliament and police and the arrest of nearly four dozen people.

Murdoch said he was "misinformed and shielded" from events at News of the World and suggested there may have been a cover-up, The Guardian reported in its blog on the inquiry.

"I do blame one or two people for that who perhaps I shouldn't name for all I know they may be arrested," he said. "There is no question in my mind maybe even the editor, but certainly beyond that someone, took charge of a cover-up, which we were victim to and I regret."

Murdoch said he was thinking specifically of one person who forbade people to go and report to the newspaper's editor, Rebekah Brooks, or to James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch's son who once led News International, the parent company of News of the World, which folded because of the scandal.

Murdoch said he didn't go through every e-mail turned over to lawyers but based on what he did read, "I cannot understand how a law firm reading that [and] not ringing a chief executive of a company and saying, 'Hey, you've got some big problems.'"

He conceded the phone-hacking scandal caused News Corp. to drop its takeover bid for British satellite television company BSkyB, but said, "We didn't have to have it, we are doing other things with the money now. We did indeed [want it] we thought it was a good investment."

Pressed about the negotiations, Murdoch said he didn't think he had met with British Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt, who oversaw the bid, The New York Times reported. Hunt also is under the spotlight over secret contacts between his office and Frederic Michel, a Murdoch family representative.

Hunt's aide, Adam Smith, resigned Wednesday, saying in a statement his contacts with Michel went too far but Hunt has resisted calls for his dismissal.

Murdoch said he did not consider Hunt a champion of the bid.

"I assumed that any responsible minister would be responsible and deal with it in an unbiased way," he said.

James Murdoch testified for five hours Tuesday.

Besides the Leveson inquiry, the matter has been under several inquiries by Parliament and British police have initiated three investigations into the hacking of voice mail and e-mail, and the alleged bribery of police officers.

The Leveson panel has been trying to determine how much Rupert and James Murdoch knew about the hacking and when they learned about it.

So far, police say they have arrested and questioned 26 people in the investigation into corruption and bribery. Twenty people were arrested in inquiries into phone and computer hacking by journalists at News International, the British newspaper subsidiary of News Corp., Murdoch's global conglomerate headquartered in New York.

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