RUPERT Murdoch yesterday described his appearance before the media select committee as the “most humble day of my life”.
The embattled media baron said he had no inkling of the hacking scandal at the heart of his best selling newspaper, which now threatens to topple his entire empire.
He told MPs he was let down by people he trusted within his organisation and never considered resigning over the affair, adding he is still the right man to oversee the clean-up operation at the company.
However, his son James Murdoch risked pouring further fuel onto the fire with comments about a report into the scandal carried out by law firm Harbottle & Lewis.
He said the report wrongly corroborated the theory that the scandal was confined to a rogue reporter and was largely “a matter of the past”. Harbottle responded with a strongly worded statement, saying it has requested News Corp “release us from our professional duties of confidentiality” so that it can “respond to any inaccurate statements or contentions”. It said that “with regret” News Corp had declined the request.
During the three-hour grilling, Rupert Murdoch was happy to be painted as a distant owner, saying the News of the World represented less than one per cent of his business and admitting he may be “out of touch”.
He claimed he was unaware of a string of events at News International, including out of court settlements to hacking victims and the blackmail conviction of a former reporter.
But while some commentators predicted the Murdochs would crack under the pressure of intense questioning, the pair remained calm throughout. Shares in both BSkyB and News Corp notched up gains while the hearing was taking place.
Rupert Murdoch even intimated he still hopes his son will take over the media empire one day.