News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch testified today that he panicked when he learned of the hacking scandal at his News of the World daily paper, reports CNN. The news chief – whose American holdings include Fox, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post – admitted there was a cover-up led by “one or two very strong individuals” whom he refused to name. “I also have to say that I failed,” he acknowledged, “and I am very sorry for it.” Added Murdoch, “This whole business is a serious blot on my reputation.”
Murdoch clarified, though, that News Corp. itself was not the perpetrator of the cover-up. “Someone took charge of a cover-up, which we were victim to and I regret,” he said.
Murdoch explained, “The hacking scandal was not a great national thing until the Milly Dowler disclosure,” in which News of the World staffers illegally checked the voicemail of a murdered girl, creating false hope for her parents that she might still be alive. Still, had he known how entrenched this behavior was in his organization, he “would have torn the place apart” to prevent it from spreading. “But that’s hindsight,” said Murdoch.
As for the atmosphere at News Corp. the day of the Dowler revelations, “You could feel the blast coming in the window. I can say it succinctly. I panicked. And I am sorry I did,” said Murdoch, who said he should have closed the News of the World years earlier. See video of Murdoch’s testimony below.
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Murdoch’s testimony came two days after son James, who resigned from News International in late February, testified. Last month, British police made a series of arrests that included former News International CEO and News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks. Back in January, the company agreed to pay dozens of victims of the hacking scandal.