Murdoch must be stripped of BSkyB stake, says Labour

HARRIET Harman, the shadow culture secretary, yesterday called for News Corp to be stripped of its 39 per cent stake in BSkyB.

Speaking on the Sunday Politics Show, Harman said that Rupert Murdoch was “not a fit and proper person” to own a broadcast licence because of the “widespread criminality” that went on at his British newspapers.

Murdoch-led News Corp, which owns a 39.1 per cent controlling stake in BSkyB, publishes The Sun and formerly published The News of the World via its British division News International.

Harman’s comments follow last week’s announcement that Ofcom, the media regulator, has widened its investigation into whether News Corp is a “fit and proper” owner of a broadcast licence to also include evidence of phone hacking.

Ofcom escalated its inquiry by asking News Corp to share private documents relating to the civil lawsuits brought by victims of phone hacking at its British newspapers. The probe is also evaluating the propriety of News Corp executive James Murdoch’s role as a BSkyB director.

Ofcom could choose to strip BSkyB of its broadcast licence unless James Murdoch resigns from the board or News Corp sells its controlling stake.

Harman yesterday reiterated her calls for Jeremy Hunt to resign after emails suggesting he passed sensitive information to News Corp regarding its ill-fated bid for the shares in BSkyB it didn’t already own.