James Murdoch survives to lie another day

By Theresa Mallinson 11 November 2011

According to, well, himself, James Murdoch heard no evil, saw no evil, et cetera when it came to the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. Which begs the question: did the heir to the Murdoch empire speak no evil when he appeared before Parliament back in June? Apparently not, at least in Murdoch's version, in which he's chosen to cast himself as incompetent, rather than malevolent. By THERESA MALLINSON.

In fairness, playing the ignorance card – and thereby admitting his own incompetence – was the only option left to James Murdoch at this stage. Murdoch denied all knowledge of just about everything, while making sure to include enough truth in his statements to invoke the plausible-deniability defence.

So, while Murdoch admits that he was told about the now-infamous “for Neville” email – which contained evidence that phone-hacking was a widespread practice at the newspaper, and not the work of a single “rogue reporter” as previously claimed – he denies that he actually read it. Or, as film-maker Chris Atkins put it in a tongue-in-cheek tweet: “GENIUS: Murdoch denies reading report, instead claims he ‘looked at the words’.”

According to Murdoch, he did not mislead Parliament during his previous testimony in June. But the conflicting evidence around what Murdoch did and did not know regarding phone-hacking practices at News of the World (not to mention the context behind the six-figure out-of-court settlement paid to Professional Footballers Association chief Gordon Taylor) suggests that somebody has. Murdoch has conveniently dumped the blame on former News of the World editor Colin Myler and lawyer Tom Crone. We’re eagerly awaiting their comebacks.

Murdoch somehow managed to survive his grilling by the committee, even belligerent Labour MP Tom Watson’s comparison of him to a mafia boss. But his ultimate survival seems increasingly unlikely. In the worst-case scenario Murdoch is an outright liar; in the best-case scenario he’s a bumbling incompetent. Whichever version turns out to be true (and we have our suspicions it’s the former), it makes Murdoch unfit to head up a global company. DM




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