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LONDON — Rupert Murdoch wrapped his dramatic evidence session with the House of Commons on Tuesday by insisting that he will not resign and saying others should pay for the damage done by the phone-hacking scandal.
Although he delivered a fulsome apology to those involved and said the behavior fell “far short” of what News Corp. expects of its employees, he insisted that he had not been informed of some of the major developments in the phone-hacking until recent weeks.
Asked if he should resign by committee member MP Louise Mensch, Murdoch replied, “No,” and said others were to blame.
“I feel that people I trusted — I’m not saying who, and I don’t know at what level — but people I trusted let me down,” he said. “They behaved disgracefully and betrayed the company and me, and it is for them to pay. I think that, frankly, I am the best person to sort this out.”
Murdoch also reiterated his hope that his children will succeed him at News Corp.
“I was brought up by a father who was not rich but a great journalist,” he said, before talking about how it is a family business stemming from those roots and values.
“I would love to see my sons and daughters follow that lead if they’re interested,” Murdoch added.
During the session, James Murdoch said he wished he had received different advice when he authorized payments to hacking victims in 2007, adding that he would have launched a “root and branch” inquiry much sooner but for advice he received from former News of the World editor Colin Myler and former News International legal head Tom Crone.
“Without this other advice, I would have still settled, but I would have immediately gone and found out more information, contacted the police, admitted liability and apologized unreservedly,” James Murdoch told the committee.
During the session, Rupert Murdoch reiterated anger over a “betrayal” by people who had worked in his organization who he said were guilty of “wrongdoing,” and he gave a stern condemnation of any such activity.
“So let me be clear in saying: Invading people’s privacy by listening to their voicemail is wrong,” Murdoch said. “Paying police officers for information is wrong. But saying sorry is not enough. Things must be put right. No excuses. This is why we are cooperating with the police.”
Murdoch’s comments closed a three-hour evidence session that had been intended to run for an hour. The octogenarian mogul repeatedly denied knowing many of the developments in the U.K. phone-hacking scandal. The testimony risks being overshadowed by the attack on Murdoch, who could have been seriously injured had the attacker possessed a genuine weapon.
Had Wendi Deng Murdoch not defended her husband from anarchic protestor Jonnie Marbles, the mogul would have been seriously embarrassed and humiliated.
She sat behind Murdoch during the proceedings and leaped up to stop the attacker, slapped his head and then — according to others in the room — hit the attacker with his own pie as members of the committee, police and House of Commons security stood open-mouthed.
It was left to House of Commons Select Committee chairman John Whittingdale to apologize to the Murdoch family for the attack.
“You have answered questions for a long time, and I would like to apologize on behalf of Parliament and the committee for the way you have been treated,” he said. “I assure you we will take action to try and find out how that was able to occur.”
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