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UPDATE, 4:37 AM: The report is not a united one. It passed 6 votes to 4 with 3 voting against the inlcusion of a line that reads that Rupert Murdoch is “not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.” According to MP Louise Mensch, no Conservative Party member felt they could support the report itself because that line was included. “We all felt that was widely outside the scope of a select committee,” Mensch said. She also said it appeared to be an “attempt to influence Ofcom,” the UK regulator that is currently weighing James Murdoch and News Corp’s “fit and proper” status to hold a broadcast license on behalf of BSkyB.
By a majority, not unanimous, vote, the committee concluded that whilst there was no definitive evidence found whether James Murdoch was aware of email hacking at the News Of The World, the committee said it was “astonished” that he did not seek to see evidence on which the decision to settle the Gordon Taylor settlement was based. Taylor, a former soccer player and head of the Professional Footballers’ Association sued over the alleged hacking of his cell phone. In July 2009, The Guardian reported he was paid about $1 million in a settlement.
On the corporate side, the committee also found by a majority vote that News Of The World and News International misled the committee “about the true nature and extent of the internal investigations they professed to have carried out in relation to phone hacking; by making statements they would have known were not fully truthful; and by failing to disclose documents which would have helped expose the truth. Their instinct throughout, until it was too late, was to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing and discipline the perpetrators, as they also professed they would do after the criminal convictions. In failing to investigate properly, and by ignoring evidence of widespread wrongdoing, News International and its parent News Corporation exhibited wilful blindness, for which the companies’ directors — including Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch — should ultimately be prepared to take responsibility.
In terms of the unanimous findings of the report:
Les Hinton was found to have misled the committee. Hinton is James Murdoch’s predecessor at News International and was a close ally of his father. The committee said Hinton misled it in 2009 “in not telling the truth about payments to Clive Goodman and his role in authorising them, including the payment of his legal fee. He also misled the Committee about the extent of his knowledge of allegations that phone-hacking extended beyond Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire.” Goodman, the former royal reporter from News Of The World, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were arrested for intercepting voice mails of members of the royal household in 2006.
The committee also found that former News Of The World legal counsel Tom Crone misled it in 2009 “by giving a counter-impression of the significance of confidentiality in the Gordon Taylor settlement and sought to mislead the Committee about the commissioning of surveillance.” Crone and former News Of The World editor Colin Myler were also found to have misled the committee “by answering questions falsely about their knowledge of evidence that other News of the World employees had been involved in phone-hacking and other wrongdoing.”
PREVIOUS, 3:49 AM PT: The UK’s Culture Media and Sport Committee is today publishing its report into the phone-hacking scandal that has rocked Rupert Murdoch’s press empire here. Labour Party MP Tom Watson just told a press conference in London that the committee has found Rupert Murdoch “not fit to run an international company like BSkyB.” More to come…