Rupert Murdoch 'Very Humbled' as He Apologizes Personally to the Family of Murdered Schoolgirl Milly Dowler
After a day of high-profile public apologies, News Corp. is finally seizing the PR initiative in the U.K.
LONDON - Rupert Murdoch "held his head in his hands" as he personally apologized to the parents of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler at a private meeting in London on Friday, the family's lawyer said.
Mark Lewis, who spoke to reporters on behalf of the family, said the News Corp. chairman and CEO made a "full and humble" apology and that he had repeated on numerous occasions that he was "very very sorry."
"He was very humbled and very shaken and very sincere. I think this is something that had hit him on a very personal level and was something that shouldn't have happened," Lewis said, speaking to reporters outside a London hotel where the meeting was held.
"He apologized many times. I don't think that somebody could have held their head in their hands so many times and said that they were very sorry," Lewis added.
The News Corp. chairman and chief executive also told the Dowler family that the phone hacking actions of The News of The World were not the standard set down by his father, the respected Australian newspaper proprietor Keith Murdoch, or his mother, the formidable Dame Elisabeth Murdoch.
The apology came after 10 days of almost unmitigated PR disasters and U-turns following the public outcry over the extent of the phone-hacking that forced Murdoch to close down his most profitable Sunday newspaper and withdraw from his long-cherished bid to secure full control of BSkyB.
Although new investigations have opened up domestically, by Friday News Corporation seemed finally to have seized control of the British media agenda, launching a series of actions that should mitigate some of the heat anticipated at next week's House of Commons appearance.
By parting company with News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, Murdoch has addressed criticism from a range of political opponents including Prime Minister David Cameron.
And by personally meeting with the Dowler family and expressing remorse over the way their daughter was treated, he has preempted the request that the Culture Media and Sport Committee had said they would put to him when he appears before them next Tuesday.
Murdoch has also bought advertising space in all of the weekend papers to publish a signed apology for the damage caused by the hacking affair.