James Murdoch Steps Back From Senior U.K. Newspaper Positions

James Murdoch - Speak At The DLD11 Conference - H - 2011
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The changes, which were made in September, only emerged Wednesday.

LONDON - James Murdoch stepped down from a series of senior positions overseeing the group’s British newspapers in September without making a public announcement, it emerged Wednesday.

Per documents filed at Companies House on Sept. 16, it appears that Murdoch stepped down two months ago from his position as director of News Group Newspapers, which is in charge of The Sun and The News of The World, and as director of Times Newspapers, which oversees The Times and The Sunday Times. He has also stepped down as director of Director of News International Holdings.

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News Group Newspapers continues to be embroiled in a number of criminal and judicial investigations into alleged criminal activities at the publishing group.

However, he will remain in a number of high profile positions that suggest a continued relationship with the newspaper operation that has been so damaged by the phone-hacking revelations that eventually forced the closure of the News of The World.

Murdoch remains executive chairman of News International - the division that publishes The Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times and formerly The News of The World and he remains director of The Times newspaper board.

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News International representatives have not given an explanation for the failure to announce such key changes when they happened but said they simply reflected Tom Mockridge’s appointment as chief executive of News International.

"Following the appointment of Tom Mockridge as CEO of News International, in September James Murdoch stepped down from the boards of a number of News International subsidiary companies including News Group Newspapers (NGN) and Times Newspapers Ltd (TNL). He remains Chairman of NI Group Ltd (News International) and a director of Times Newspapers Holdings Ltd (TNHL), the holding company of Times Newspapers,” the company said in a statement.

Mockridge, the former CEO of Sky Italia, was appointed to run the newspaper operation after his predecessor Rebekah Wade resigned, and was shortly thereafter arrested in July.

James Murdoch also remains non-executive chairman of BSkyB, which is 39 percent-owned by News Corp.

Meanwhile, News Ltd Australia has categorically denied claims that it tried to bribe a former Australian senator, Bill O’Chee.

"News Limited chairman and chief executive John Hartigan categorically denied allegations of improper conduct by the company which were published in the Fairfax press today," the company said in a statement reported by the Wall Street Journal, part of News Corporation.

Australia’s Federal Police force has confirmed to the newspaper that it is investigating claims that the former Queensland senator had been offered favorable news coverage in exchange for supporting specific digital television legislation.