UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from Breakingviews:

James Murdoch stuck in limbo

By Chris Hughes
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The challenge to James Murdoch's credibility remains serious.

Two former senior staff have repeated assertions that News Corporation's European boss was made aware, in 2008, of evidence that phone hacking at his UK newspapers involved more than just a single rogue reporter. Murdoch has strongly rejected that claim. The truth of the matter remains unclear.

The dispute turns on what was discussed at a meeting between Murdoch and his two accusers -- a former editor of The News of The World newspaper and a senior legal executive -- more than three years ago. The meeting lasted only about 15 minutes. The outcome was that Murdoch approved a jumbo settlement to an alleged victim of phone hacking. The size of the financial settlement leads some to think that News Corp was buying silence. The key question, however, is whether Murdoch was told that phone hacking was more widespread than the company had previously maintained.

Murdoch's accusers say that he was told. But the details are fiddly. Neither Colin Myler, the editor, nor Tom Crone, the lawyer, can recall the exact phrases used in the discussion. So Murdoch can say, and is saying, that he wasn't explicitly told in plain language that phone hacking went beyond one individual.
The lack of decisive evidence regarding the 2008 meeting does not exonerate Murdoch. It is his word against the word of two others. He still has a case to answer and the allegation that he didn't act on evidence, and later misled parliament, is very serious. Another grilling is likely.

from Breakingviews:

James Murdoch should take a break from News Corp

By Chris Hughes
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

James Murdoch should stage his own tactical retreat and resign from News Corporation. The heir apparent to his father Rupert’s media empire has lost authority. That may not be entirely his fault. Underlings seem to have let him down, and his father has undermined him by backing Rebekah Brooks, the head of the group’s scandal-ridden UK newspapers, who reports to James. The best way for Murdoch jnr to regain control of his own destiny is to leave.

Will a free market for news media harm impartiality?

Photo

BRITAIN/Business Secretary Peter Mandelson took a subtle dig at the Murdoch News empire this week when he said that some in the commercial sector want to maintain an “iron grip” on pay TV and “to erode the commitment to impartiality — in other words, to fill British airwaves with more Fox-style news.”

“They believe that profit alone should drive the gathering and circulation of news rather than allowing a role for what they call ‘state-sponsored journalism’,” he added, during the second reading of the Digital Economy Britain bill.

  •