Murdoch claims victim status in hacking crisis

RUPERT Murdoch yesterday claimed senior staff at the News of the World (NotW) deliberately covered up phone hacking from News Corp executives.

Appearing before the Leveson inquiry for the second day, Murdoch said the cover up during the phone-hacking scandal emanated from the Sunday tabloid.

He said, “I do blame one or two people for that... maybe even the editor, but certainly beyond that, someone took charge of a cover up which we were victim to and I regret.”

Murdoch stated that an editor was appointed with “specific instructions to find out what was going on.”

“He never reported back that there was more hacking than we had been told,” the News Corp boss added.

Murdoch also implicated NotW’s head legal adviser Tom Crone, alleging that “a lawyer” had forbidden journalists from reporting to James Murdoch or Rebekah Brooks with evidence of unethical behaviour.

Crone hit back at the tycoon, calling his assertion “a shameful lie”.

“It is perhaps no coincidence that the two people he has identified in relation to his cover-up allegations are the same two people who pointed out that his son’s evidence to the parliamentary select committee last year was inaccurate,” Crone said.

Murdoch is also facing pressure to give law firm Burton Copeland permission to publish the results of an internal inquiry it conducted for News International in 2007.

Harbottle & Lewis, another law firm involved in the inquiry, found no evidence of further hacking at the newspaper company and was permitted to reveal its findings.

But Murdoch said he was not aware that News International had not waived client confidentiality for Burton Copeland.

The octogenarian told the Leveson inquiry he wished he had intervened five years ago when allegations of phone hacking surfaced.

“I’m sorry I didn’t close [the NotW] years before,” Murdoch said.

He called the phone hacking scandal “a serious blot” on his reputation.