James Murdoch can breathe a little easier, if Parliament’s conclusion about his and former employees’ roles in phone-hacking plays out the way the Guardian predicted Friday. While Murdoch’s MP inquisitors seem inclined to believe the News International chairman’s assertions that he was never informed of the full extent of what had been taking place at News of the World, the paper’s former lawyer Tom Crone and former Editor Colin Myler aren’t likely to get off as easily. Both Crone and Myler are expected to be censured by the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee for failure to disclose all the evidence they were aware of at previous hearings. Murdoch has consistently maintained that Crone, Myler and Les Hinton, among others, never apprised him of the full extent of phone-hacking, for which MPs will at worst characterize the News Corp deputy COO as spectacularly ill-informed.
Following Murdoch’s emergence from Thursday’s second Parliamentary grilling relatively unscathed, the board of British Sky Broadcasting on Friday expressed confidence in his continued performance as chairman of the satellite broadcaster. “We agreed that James Murdoch has done a first class job,” Nicholas Ferguson, BSkyB’s senior independent director, said in a letter to investors asserting that Murdoch’s handling of the scandal had “no effect on sales, customers or suppliers over the last five months.” A group of British pension funds who hold about 1% of BSkyB, New York-based proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis & Co., and Franklin Resources Mutual Series, which owns about 3 percent of BSkyB have all advised against Murdoch’s re-election. Murdoch will face BSkyB investors at the annual general meeting on Nov. 29. At least 17 people have been arrested in connection with the continuing investigation of phone-hacking and bribing police officers at News Corp.’s U.K. newspapers.
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