Rupert Murdoch Denies 9/11 Victims' Phones Were Hacked
But he admits he does "not know" if the private investigator or News of the World "took it upon themselves" to attempt to access those phones.
LONDON - Rupert Murdoch said he had had no evidence whatever that any phone-hacking of 9/11 victims was carried out by any News Corporation staff, and said he thought it was “unbelievable” that it could have been carried out by anyone in the US.
However he did not rule out that News of The World investigator Glenn Mulcaire may have been involved, saying he “did not know.”
In a tense questioning session with MPs Tuesday in which neither Rupert nor James Murdoch were allowed to read an opening statement they had prepared, Rupert Murdoch frequently banged the table as he answered about the extent of the wrongdoing, he said he had not been told about the bulk of the U.K. phone-hacking scandal until very recently.
“We have seen no evidence at all and as far as we know the FBI haven’t either. If we do we will treat it exactly the same way here as it was in America.”
“I cannot believe it happened from anyone in America. Whether someone from The News of The World or Mr Mulcaire took it upon himself to do so I do not know.”
Asked if he would commission an investigation if any evidence as to 9/11 hacking did occur, Murdoch replied “absolutely.”
Asked about the fact that News Corp. had had to pull out of its cherished deal to acquire BSkyB as well as close down the 168-year old News of The World, Murdoch appeared to blame industry enemies.
“There were a lot of people who had different agendas and tried to build this hysteria. All our competitors in this country formally announced a consortium to try and stop us. They caught us with dirty hands and they tried to stop us. I think a mood developed that made it impractical for us to continue.”
At that point News Corp. deputy COO intervened to say that the deal had been abandoned so the company could focus on its priority of restoring trust and “operate in the right way and be the company it has always aspired to be. The removal of an offer for BSkyB is simply a reflection of that priority.”
“We believe that the actions of some reporters some years ago have tarnished the trust that we had with readers and this is a matter of huge sorrow,” James Murdoch added.
Earlier Rupert Murdoch had said he had only found out very recently about the extent of the phone-hacking allegations in the U.K. and crucially had not known any out-of-court settlement payments that James Murdoch had agreed in the U.K.
James Murdoch said that the scale of the issue would not have been referred to the News Corp. CEO.
“Something of that quantum – is a decision local executives would be expected to make – it is below the approval thresholds that would have to go to my father,” James Murdoch added.
Earlier Rupert Murdoch had said that while he did not want to excuse not knowing about the detail, but as an explanation he said:
“The News of The World is less than one percent of my company – we employ 53,000 people around the world and they are proud and great and ethical and distinguished people and I am spread watching and appointing people whom I trust to run those divisions.”
When he was asked about whether he had been mislead by his own executives he said that he must have been. “That is what the police are investigating.”
But he publicly defended Dow Jones chief executive Les Hinton, who was chief executive of News International during the years that the hacking is known to have occurred.
“I have known Mr Hinton for 52 years and I would trust him with my life.”