In portraying himself as an innocent party to whatever wrongdoing might have been going on at the newspapers he oversaw at News International, James Murdoch pleaded ignorance of both phone hacking and political influencing during his Leveson testimony. The hacking he blamed on his subordinates, who he said kept it from him; and the political maneuvering, in which he's accused of throwing The Sun's support to the Tories after a private meeting with David Cameron, simply "wouldn't occur to me," he said.
The most exhaustive rundown of the morning's testimony, Murdoch's first in front of the inquiry led by Lord Justice Brian Leveson (he appeared before Parliament last fall), can be found in The Guardian, which has been live blogging the whole thing. Original document buffs will want to check out Murdoch's prepared testimony at the Leveson Inquiry's website. But the basic gist, which comes across in the first few paragraphs of the Associated Press report by Raphael Satter, is that Murdoch says his subordinates -- namely former News of the World editor Colin Myler (now at The New York Daily News) and former in-house lawyer Tom Crone -- misled him about the scale of the hacking. This exchange from AP just about captures it:
Leveson asked Murdoch: "Can you think of a reason why Mr. Myler or Mr. Crone should keep this information from you? Was your relationship with them such that they may think: 'Well we needn't bother him with that' or 'We better keep it from it because he'll ask to cut out the cancer'?"
"That must be it," Murdoch said. "I would say: 'Cut out the cancer,' and there was some desire to not do that."
But remember, Murdoch actually did get an email indicating the hacking was more extensive than he had thought, and he didn't read it fully because it was a weekend and he was busy with family stuff. The best coverage for that angle of the testimony Monday comes from the BBC, which focused on the "for Neville" missive (that'd be Neville Thurlbeck, News of The World's former chief reporter and one at the center of this whole thing) quoting Murdoch: "I didn't read the email chain. It was a Saturday, I had just come back from Hong Kong, I was with my children. I responded in minutes."
As for Murdoch's political maneuverings, the BBC adds to the AP coverage not just that Murdoch had apparently met with Cameron before his election, but that he had met with the prime minister after he took office, but not for anything so crass as to feel out Cameron's positions on News Corporation's taking over satellite broadcaster BSkyB. Per BBC:
Mr Murdoch also said he discussed the BSkyB bid with Mr Cameron at the home of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks on 23 December 2010 - seven months after he became prime minister.
He denied the purpose of the meetings was partly to find out where Mr Cameron stood on issues which would directly affect Mr Murdoch's companies, such as TV and press regulation
More testimony is scheduled for this afternoon, and you can watch live at The Guardian.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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