Rupert Murdoch to Parliament: 'This Is the Most Humble Day of My Life'

6:40 AM PST 07/19/2011 by Mimi Turner
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The News Corp. chief appears with son James Murdoch -- who says "We're sorry" -- to answer questions about the phone hacking scandal. Click for the newest update.

LONDON - Dressed in a dark grey suit and accompanied by his son James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch became one of only a handful of people in recent history to be ordered to appear before a House of Select Committee after being officially served with a Warrant.

"This is the most humble day of my life," he said. James said, "We're sorry." Read the Statement Rupert Murdoch Wasn't Allowed to Make in Parliament

Rupert's wife, Wendi, and former NYC schools chancellor Joel Klein, who is currently an executive VP at News Corp. and a key player in investigating the phone hacking scandal internally, were seated behind them.

Murdoch arrived for questioning at the House of Commons in a black Range Rover for an appearance before a hostile committee of Members of Parliament ,which could yet determine the future of his family’s dominant role at News Corp.

For the News Corp deputy COO James Murdoch, his evidence on damaging admissions of sanctioning payments to hacking victims will almost certainly have a bearing on whether BSkyB’s independent shareholders bring pressure onto him to step down as BSkyB chairman.

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Earlier Rebekah Brooks, dressed in a black suit, also entered the House of Commons for an evidence session directly following the Murdochs. James Murdoch arrived separately and was driven straight into the building. Brooks was released on bail by police on Sunday after being arrested and facing 12 hours of questioning. A laptop computer, phone and sheaf of documents that were found in a dumpster close to her home last night are also being examined by police officers.

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Less than a month ago it would have been unimaginable for the News Corporation CEO to face such a pivotal political moment in the UK without friends and allies lining the corridors of power.

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But such has been the impact of the phone hacking scandal at the News of The World that continues to send damaging shockwaves through the News Corporation global empire, the 80-year old mogul has been forced to submit to the ignominy of facing cross-questioning from a dozen MPs who would never normally be graced even with an invitation to his sumptuous annual London summer party.

 

Both Prime Minister David Cameron and Opposition leader Ed Milliband have distanced themselves with the Murdoch name. Cameron, a close friend of Rebekah Brooks and her husband - a fellow old Etonian -  is under pressure himself for the extent of his involvement with former News of The World Editor Andy Coulson, who was his personal spokesman before the phone-hacking scandal forced Coulson to resign. Coulson was bailed after being arrested last week.

In London there was queuing around the block of Portcullis House – part of the House of Commons complex in Westminster - for several hours before Rupert and James Murdoch made their appearance before the Culture, Media and Sport select committee Tuesday.

Paparazzi and photographers snapped Jemima Khan entering and other luminaries attending included Harry Evans, having flown in from New York earlier today. A small anti-Murdoch rally from the Socialist Worker magazine shouted slogans and heckled.

Inside the building there was standing room only in the limited-capacity Wilson room, one of the smaller evidence-hearing venues in the House of Commons, with limited access for journalists, witnesses, Parliamentary staff and members of the public. The remainder had to watch the event via video-link in a nearby overflow room.

Nevertheless the stage is set for access to the most anticipated political and parliamentary event in recent history.

British networks including BBC2, Sky News and BBCNews 24 are giving continuous coverage to the event while Fox News, CNN and MSNBC also plan coverage.

 

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