Rupert Murdoch cannot be trusted any more after this cover-up


3:19 pm - May 1st 2012

by Helen Goodman MP    


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Corporate practice in the United States is different from this country. In the USA the same person can be both Chair of the Board and Chief Executive – this gives that person huge power. In the UK the roles are separated.

Rupert Murdoch holds both posts at News Corporation. He is not in semi-retirement, he is hands-on. Rebekah Brooks told the Committee that she spoke to him every other day when she was News International CEO.

This is why the charge of “wilful blindness” to what was going on made by the Culture Select Committee is persuasive.

What has been discovered by the Select Committee and by the Leveson Inquiry is as policewoman Sue Akers pointed out a pattern of wrongdoing.

Illegal and corrupt activity – hacking telephones and paying public officials were almost common practice at News International. There was a culture of impunity. This is clear to everyone.

The Select Committee was agreed that three senior executives, Tom Crone, Colin Myler and Les Hinton had lied to the Committee.

So why did the Tory members of the Committee vote against the section of the report pointing up the failings in corporate governance which concludes that Rupert Murdoch is not “a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.”

What is the role of the Chair and CEO – if not to see that the company is properly run in accordance with the law?

Louise Mensch suggested they are worried that Ofcom’s investigation into the “fit and proper person” test – which BSkyB must pass to retain its licence to broadcast will be pre-empted.

The “not fit” conclusion of the Select Committee is subtly different and we must await the independent regulator’s technical conclusion.

But – having overseen the web of malpractice, criminal activity and cover up at one company – News International, it’s hard to see how Rupert Murdoch can be trusted with another – BSkyB.

There has been wild speculation that Sky could fold. This is of course nonsense. Sky is a large broadcaster with many capable people inside it.

If it is forced to cut its links with the original parent now a minority shareholder – or if the Murdoch clan’s personal involvement were brought to an end that would probably benefit the company – certainly that’s what a large number of shareholders thought last year.

By voting against this part of the report the Tories have demonstrated, once again, that they don’t understand the difference between crony capitalism and responsible capitalism.

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About the author
Helen Goodman is Labour Member of Parliament for Bishop Auckland, and Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport.
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Reader comments


“In the UK the roles are separated.”

Unless I’m very much mistaken, isn’t this a matter for the Corporate Governance Code which, as any fule kno, listed companies don’t actually legally have to be bound do? Could be wrong, but I’m not aware of this being stipulated for anywhere in statute. In any case he holds these roles abroad, and it’s not the UK’s job to go ferretting about.

“What is the role of the Chair and CEO – if not to see that the company is properly run in accordance with the law?”

On the ground, rather than in the boardroom, it’s the managers there and their legal/compliance teams who are truly responsible, to be frank.

Mr Murdoch doesn’t need to be “trusted”. He only needs to be exposed. Then every individual can decide whether to buy the Sun or The Times or watch FOX News.

I don’t mind if lunatics run papers and TV stations as long as they are not all under the control of one lunatic.

3. Chaise Guevara

You realise you’re now going to get angry letters from both of the people who trusted Rupert Murdoch before this?

4. john riches

I know that it’s straying from the point, but is the grammar in this post – misplaced full stops, incontinent hyphens leading to near-illegible paragraphs (e.g. the penultimate one) – really the best that this MP can do?

Tom’s right, there is no prohibition on an executive chairman under UK law. Under the Corporate Governance Code, all a company has to do is persuade its shareholders that there’s a good reason for the roles to be combined. There’s a recent, pretty high profile example of this too – Sir Stuart Rose at M&S.

Still, there’s no reason why legislators should know the law is there?

6. Chaise Guevara

@ 4 john

Bad grammar makes me flinch too, but it’s hardly a vital skill for an MP.

@ 4.

Right. I was getting confused at the end of the first paragraph, then I realised that the second was simply a continuation of the same idea and that the two should have been run together.

@ 6.

I suppose it’s not as if MP’s ever have to write anything of any importance.

Well Cameron has to decide if the tories are for law and order or are they pro Mafia?

Because if you support Murdoch you are supporting a criminal crime family that operates Globally.

“Because if you support Murdoch you are supporting a criminal crime family that operates Globally.”

Is there such a thing as a non-criminal crime?

Who ever trusted him in the first place? When I suggested in the late-60s and early 70s that Maxwell and Murdoch be deported as undesirable aliens, I didn’t expect any response from the powers-that-be. Forty-odd years later, someone notices that Murdoch might be less than perfect.

@ 8 Sally
Cameron has actually decreed an investigation of Murdoch, hence the Murdoch team turning on him (and, as an easy way to do so, smearing Hunt by attributing to him actions by his SpAd approved by the senior Civil Servant in the Ministry – I’m not saying I have any proof that Hunt is innocent, just that Murdoch’s team is smearing him without any proof of his guilt. Cameron has been served warning that News Corp can smear him any any of his colleagues until he gives in or is defeated by Millionaireband, who is an easier touch.)
Secondly, you might note that News Corp is not global because not in Russia (which comprises one-seventh of the earth’s land area), nor many other countries. Thirdly the Mafia who pride themselves on “omerta” might feel insulted by the comparison.

But Rupert Murdoch is “a good friend” of Tony Blair.

Why isn’t Tony Blair speaking up to defend his good friend against all these slurs?

13. Charlieman

@10. John77: “When I suggested in the late-60s and early 70s that Maxwell and Murdoch be deported as undesirable aliens, I didn’t expect any response from the powers-that-be. Forty-odd years later, someone notices that Murdoch might be less than perfect.”

“Captain Bob” Maxwell was a naturalised UK citizen so deportation was not an option. But 20 years before his death, the Department of Trade and Industry determined that he was not a fit person to manage a public company. On that basis, Rupert Murdoch might reach the age of 101 years before he needs to worry 😉

Five(?) Labour MPs were on the Select Committee. Tom Watson has justly earned a “get out of jail free” card but we have to question the other four about former Labour leaders snuggling up to News Corp. The “other four” are not directly culpable — they are backbenchers — but they represent the 80% of the Parliamentary Labour Party that said nothing about News Corp until something had to be said.

Cuddling up to the Murdoch family was convenient to Labour when favourable press coverage was promised. The politicians and advisers who cosied up knew what they were doing and cannot protest that Rupert Murdoch of 1997 is a different man from 2012. We deserve an apology from the 80%.

How the world turns, when a Conservative government is poised to nationalise Sky in order to save it after its owner has been ruled unfit and improper, with no more practical intention of ever returning it to the private sector than of doing so with the banks. After today’s Select Committee report, is it so much as conceivable that Ofcom will fail to find against the Murdochs in exactly the same terms?

I am most reliably informed that the staff at Sky News would love to be rid of Papa and Baby ‘Doch so that their channel could be taken fully seriously. It entirely deserves to be. Sky News is not half bad at all. Its revenue could be used to keep going The Times and the Sunday Times for saving which Murdoch undeniably deserves credit, with the Independent National Directors of all three elected by and from among Sky subscribers. Or perhaps, in the event of public ownership, by and from among the electorate at large. Though, in either events, strictly from among politically independent candidates.

The sport could go back to the BBC and ITV. The high quality American television could go back to the BBC and Channel 4. The low quality American television could go back to ITV and 5. The films could go back to whichever of those happened to buy them. And The Sun could go to the wall, thereby, as much as anything else, forcing the Mirror Group titles back to their roots as serious popular newspapers. After all, Maurice Glasman, never did take up that column on the Sunday edition, so let it go and take Toby Young with it.

There was a pre-Murdoch Sun, and even Auberon Waugh wrote for it. Before even that, it was the Daily Herald, which was at one time edited by George Lansbury, and for which both Chesterton and Belloc were known to write. It awarded the Order of Industrial Heroism, the medal of which was designed by Eric Gill of the Distributist League and of the Westminster Cathedral Stations of the Cross, and featured Saint Christopher carrying the Christ Child. That at a time when the awarding newspaper was the official organ of the TUC, recalling all those Biblical scenes and characters on many a trade union banner. Maurice Glasman, indeed. Rod Liddle, as now. Neil Clark. Tim Collard. Martin Meenagh. Oh, yes, there would be no shortage of people to write for it. With no more competition from the gutter or the sewer.

@ Charlieman
Yes, I know that ” “Captain Bob” Maxwell was a naturalised UK citizen so deportation was not an option.”- unfortunately! That was one reason why I didn’t expect any action from the powers-that-be; another was that he was a Labour MP.
We have been told that one-third of UK babies born this year will live to 100, so my response is 🙁

@ David Lindsay
There was NOT a pre-Murdoch “Sun”. He bought the Daily Herald, promising the TUC that he would not change its editorial policy for n years and changed its name. (Chaise or someone, please remind me what n was: I think it was 2 or 3).
The problem with the “Daily Herald” was economics – a broadsheet for the working class, used by the TUC to promote the ever-shifting policies of the Labour Representative Committee of the TUC, it was boring and the working class mostly chose to read the Mirror (5 million) or the entertaining Express (4 million), which had far better sports pages, rather than the Herald (1.6 million) so, in consequence, advertising revenue as well as sales revenue was lower.

@16, The Sun existed for five years, under that name and consciously different from the previous Daily Herald, before Murdoch bought it.

18. Charlieman

@14. David Lindsay: “How the world turns, when a Conservative government is poised to nationalise Sky in order to save it after its owner has been ruled unfit and improper, with no more practical intention of ever returning it to the private sector than of doing so with the banks.”

That’s brilliant satire. Can you describe what happens when David Cameron and Richard Seymour (aka Lenin’s Tomb) share tea together?

19. Charlieman

@14. David Lindsay: “How the world turns, when a Conservative government is poised…”

Personal failure. It is copy and paste from this:
http://davidas*no-troll-link*lindsay.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/once-sky-has-fallen-in.html

@ David Lindsay and everyone else
Sorry – I misremembered. The name change came before Murdoch bought it. I only remembered the later change in style which I wrongly thought coincided with the change of name

A lot of Blah blah blah from tories. Cameron sends Hunt as shadow culture to LA to meet NI top brass. He returns, and 2 days later James Murdoch goes to see Cameron and tells him NI will swing it’s support behind the tories.

James Murdoch and Brooks storm into Independent offices and attack editor as it becomes more likely that election could be closer than they think. Cameron warned many times about Andy Coulson but ignores it.

Hunt hides behind tree to avoid being seen with Murdoch, but advisor is constant contact. This was a done deal, and the govt have been acting as if due process was being followed. BULLSHIT. Hunt should go on the stage and play a dodgy car dealer.

22. Mr James

You could clearly see/hear and feel that the three Tories on the sellect committee did their best given the circumstances to embark on damage limitation with the view to protecting the prime-minister David Cameron at a later date.

All this is slowly leading to David Cameron’s part and association but he appears to have some pretty determined people to act as his fire wall to try and protect him or limit the damage.

Andy Culson and Brooks may still be Cameron’s biggest nightmare but only time will tell. This lot are most certainly all in it together along with the race horse that was also abused by them. (Remember the police claimed the horse was returned in a bad condition).

@ Sally
Can you count beyond one?

@John

The more of Sally’s comments I read, the more I’m amazed that she has figured out which bits of the keyboard do what.

25. Charlieman

@21. Sally: “A lot of Blah blah blah from tories.”

Give me an answer, Sally. I challenged that 80% of the Parliamentary Labour Party didn’t give a shit about Murdoch when News Corp newspapers gave favourable commentary to the Labour Party.

Give me an answer, because it deserves one. The question applies to people who are not necessarily called Sally.

It is interpreted in 2012 that Murdoch acts (and has acted in the past) as a bully. Everyone knew it to be a truth donkey’s years ago.

My assumption is, thus, that UK politicians have succumbed to a bully: prime ministers (they no longer deserve capital letters), ministers (ditto) and the entire shabangle are presumed to have eased Murdoch’s elevation.

So we need a bit of honesty, perhaps? I suggest the first point of honesty is from the Labour Party: that they were wrong to suck up to Murdoch.

26. Chaise Guevara

@ 7 Kaboom

“I suppose it’s not as if MP’s ever have to write anything of any importance.”

Pff. There are people called “editors” and other people called “civil servants”. Grammar isn’t the be-all and end-all it’s cracked up to be. And while bad grammar may correlate with low intelligence/education, it’s hardly a smoking gun.

Don’t get me wrong; grammar’s awesome. But people who care about it and are good at it tend to treat it as the Holy Grail. Grammar is basically my day job, but I’m not worried about being represented by an MP who doesn’t know their “you’re” from their “your” or their “which” from their “that”. There are more important skill sets for that job.

Of course Blair was wrong to curry favour with Murdoch. But it summed up the whole ghastly new labour project. We can now see, that Blair was a closet tory.

But Blair saw first hand the power of Murdoch and the tory press in the 80’s. He leant from the tory party. So he decided to sup with the devil. Doing huge long term damage to the party,and the country. I still believe the major reason he went to war in Iraq so eagerly was his fear of upsetting uncle Rupert.

But If you read the Murdoch coverage during the New Labour years it was really support for Blair, rather than The Labour party. That is why Blair conducted himself like a President.

It is also worth noting that Murdoch has had great success in the UK and US where a first past the post system enables him to play the parties of against each other. I thought Cameron would resist Murdoch. The fact the he folded so quickly showed how he was NOT a new tory.

The real problem is that there a trapist conspiracy between politicians and media to deny the power of certain sections of the press. If Murdoch has no power why do they flock to him? Because the media does win elections.

@ 20 Chaise
Yep, but grammar really counts when misuse changes the meaning. I, personally, am more concerned at her failure to know the rules for company chairman and CEOs when writing about them.
The FT says that the Tories only voted against the conclusion that Rupert Murdoch was not fit to be in charge of a global business: I regretfully agree with them on that – of course he is fit to run a global business, just not one with which I should ever like to deal.

Sunny – please can you check a few posts for insanity?
“Blair was a closet Tory” – which is why he won three elections for the Labour Party, allowed Brown to destroy occupational pensions that had provided individuals with financial independence in their old age, and oversaw a massive increase in the public sector (disguised by “outsourcing” chunks of unskilled work to pseudo-private companies re-employing public sector workers).

30. Charlieman

@27. Sally

Thanks for the response.

“But If you read the Murdoch coverage during the New Labour years it was really support for Blair, rather than The Labour party.”

And that is a problem for Blairites to accommodate.

“The real problem is that there a trapist conspiracy…”

I *know* but I can’t tell you about it.

31. Charlieman

Trappism: two letter Ps. I can cope with variations.

32. Charlieman

@OP, Helen Goodman MP: “But – having overseen the web of malpractice, criminal activity and cover up at one company – News International, it’s hard to see how Rupert Murdoch can be trusted with another – BSkyB.”

You have had your entire political career to determine whether Murdoch enterprises are dangerous but you fucked it up.

You proclaim that you have “overseen the web of malpractice” — you fucked that one up, didn’t you.

Both the Conservatives and Labour were guilty of Groupthink on this one. This was a really important outcome and they cheapened it by splitting along party lines. Voters need to find Independent candidates and representatives from Minor Parties that share their political ideals rather than fuelling the tag-team politics of the two major parties. MPs of the major parties will always serve the interests of their party leaders before the actual national interest – represented first and foremost in representing the view of their constituents. Only Independents and Minor Party candidates are likely to feel obliged to honour this. Time for a change. Check out
http://thewhiteticket.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/bloc-voting-on-commons-culture-media.html

He cut income tax to 20% He started a tory war for oil in the middle east. He has said in his deluded autobiography that he now regrets the ban on hunting, the freedom of information act, the human rights act, and givig more powers to Scotland& Wales.

Since leaving office he has made a fortune making pathetic speeches to various corporations. He is a tory through and through.

35. Chaise Guevara

@ 28 John77

“Yep, but grammar really counts when misuse changes the meaning.”

True enough.

“I, personally, am more concerned at her failure to know the rules for company chairman and CEOs when writing about them.”

See, there’s an example of a much more important factor – knowing what you’re talking about.


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