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Rupert Murdoch Ally Les Hinton Resigns as CEO of News Corp.'s Dow Jones Unit Amid Phone Hacking Scandal

Les Hinton
Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

The Wall Street Journal publisher, a 52-year veteran of News Corp., used to run U.K. newspaper unit News International as executive chairman at the time of the alleged hacking and said Friday that his previous testimonies "were given honestly."

NEW YORK --  Les Hinton, CEO of News Corp.'s Dow Jones unit, publisher of the Wall Street Journal and a long-time ally of conglomerate chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, resigned Friday afternoon.

The 52-year News Corp. veteran led Dow Jones since Dec. 2007 and is the latest casualty of a phone hacking scandal at the company's U.K. newspaper business News International. Earlier in the day, News International CEO Rebekah Brooks - who is scheduled to testify Tuesday in front of the U.K. Parliament’s culture, media and sport committee in London with Murdoch and his son and News Corp. deputy COO James Murdoch - resigned. Previous departures were Jon Chapman, head of legal at News International, and the firm's legal manager Tom Crone.

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As The Hollywood Reporter reported, Hinton was expected to face tough questions amid the ongoing phone hacking scandal. The Guardian previously said that during his tenure as executive chairman of News International, Hinton appeared twice before Parliament and gave evidence "that now appears to be misleading." Hinton on Friday defended his previous testimony.

"Les and I have been on a remarkable journey together for more than 52 years," Rupert Murdoch said in a statement. "That this passage has come to an unexpected end, professionally, not personally, is a matter of much sadness to me."

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He added: “On this difficult day we should appreciate that his extraordinary work has provided a platform for the future success of Dow Jones. And his great contribution to News Corporation over more than five decades has enhanced innumerable lives, whether those of employees hired by him or of readers better informed because of him. News Corporation is not Rupert Murdoch. It is the collective creativity and effort of many thousands of people around the world, and few individuals have given more to this company than Les Hinton."

Dow Jones president Todd Larsen will now be the company's highest-ranking executive. He will report to News Corp. president, COO and deputy chairman Chase Carey.

Hinton commented on his departure in a statement. “I have watched with sorrow from New York as the News of the World story has unfolded," he said. "I have seen hundreds of news reports of both actual and alleged misconduct during the time I was executive chairman of News International and responsible for the company. The pain caused to innocent people is unimaginable. That I was ignorant of what apparently happened is irrelevant and in the circumstances I feel it is proper for me to resign from News Corp. and apologize to those hurt by the actions of News of the World.”

Added Hinton: “When I left News International in December 2007, I believed that the rotten element at the News of the World had been eliminated; that important lessons had been learned; and that journalistic integrity was restored." And he said that "my testimonies before the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee were given honestly...If others had evidence that wrongdoing went further, I was not told about it.”

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai