James Murdoch has written to a key parliamentary committee expressing "great and real regret" over the phone hacking scandal while maintaining his innocence in the affair.
In the letter, Murdoch took responsibility for a failure to uncover the scale of phone hacking. However, he maintained that he was unaware of criminal activity at his company, and denied reports that he resigned as chief executive at News International in the wake of the scandal.
"It has been suggested that my decision to resign my role at News International reflected past knowledge of voicemail interception or other alleged criminal wrongdoing at News International," he wrote. "This is untrue. I take my share of responsibility for not uncovering wrongdoing earlier. However, I have not misled Parliament. I did not know about, nor did I try to hide, wrongdoing."
He further rejected evidence suggesting that he was aware of wider criminality, specifically an email chain he had received detailing the extent of phone hacking. He said he "was confident that [he] only read the request for a meeting and did not read the full email chain." He also claimed that he did not know the background of a check he had signed to settle Gordon Taylor's phone hacking claim, and had never seen the infamous "For Neville" email containing transcripts of voice mail messages. "There was not mention of Neville to me at the time, and nor was I shown the email," he wrote.
He acknowledged that he could have taken more steps to uncover phone hacking earlier, as well.
Murdoch and the committee have gone back and forth for many rounds since the phone hacking scandal exploded last July. He has steadfastly said that he had no knowledge of the widespread nature of phone hacking within the News of the World, despite ample testimony to the contrary.
Murdoch has also seen his position within News Corp. weakened, and has stepped down as chairman of News International, the company's British newspaper arm.
The letter comes during a period of intense scrutiny over Murdoch's role as chairman of the satellite television company BSkyB. News Corp., which owns 39% of BSkyB, was forced to drop its bid to buy the company outright last year, but it is still a coveted part of its portfolio. Media regulator Ofcom is looking into whether Murdoch is a "fit and proper" person to chair BSkyB, and the CMS committee is also publishing a new report about phone hacking in a matter of weeks. If the report finds that Murdoch willfully mislead the committee, it would be extremely damaging to him.
The letter emerged just one day after Rebekah Brooks, who was Murdoch's close colleague, was arrested along with her husband in connection with phone hacking.
Below, view the full text of Murdoch's letter.
March 2002: Days after the disappearance of 13-year old Milly Dowler, British tabloid News of the World began intercepting Dowler's voicemail messages.
Police first became aware that the paper was listening to Dowler's messages after it reported that an employment agency had called Dowler about a job vacancy, but didn't take action "partly because their main focus was to find the missing schoolgirl and partly because this was only one example of tabloid misbehaviour," according to <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jul/04/milly-dowler-voicemail-hacked-news-of-world" target="_hplink">the Guardian</a>.
A News of the World item about his knee injury lead Prince William to believe that his aides' voicemail messages were being listened to by a third party. Three royal aides also noticed that new voicemails were showing up as old. Months later, the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/magazine/05hacking-t.html?pagewanted=1" target="_hplink">New York Times reported</a>, News of the World editor Clive Goodman wrote a piece about Prince Harry's visit to a strip club that quoted a voice mail message from his brother William word-for-word.
Goodman (right) and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire (left) received jail time for intercepting hundreds of voicemail messages meant for royal aides. The pair accessed the voice mailboxes of three aides 609 times, according to <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6301243.stm" target="_hplink">BBC News</a>. An earlier search of Mulcaire's home turned up "dozens of notebooks and two computers containing 2,978 complete or partial mobile phone numbers and 91 PIN codes; at least three names of other News of the World journalists; and 30 tape recordings made by Mulcaire," reports the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/magazine/05hacking-t.html?pagewanted=all" target="_hplink">Times</a>, but the pair were only charged for hacking the royal aides.
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jul/08/murdoch-newspapers-phone-hacking " target="_hplink">New allegations from the Guardian</a> that NoW paid £1m to suppress evidence of phone hacking prompted Parliament to hold new hearings two years after News International exec Les Hinton (bottom left next to Murdoch) first testified that Goodman was the only person at NoW who knew about the hacking. At the new hearing, Coulson (top left) maintained that he was unaware of phone hacking during his time at NoW.
A <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/magazine/05hacking-t.html?pagewanted=1" target="_hplink">New York Times</a> piece alleged that phone hacking was pervasive at NoW and Coulson was aware of conversations about the practice, despite denying any knowledge about it. According to the Times: "'Everyone knew,' one longtime reporter said. 'The office cat knew,'" and reporters "described a frantic, sometimes degrading atmosphere in which some reporters openly pursued hacking or other improper tactics to satisfy demanding editors."
Coulson stepped down as communications chief, <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jan/21/andy-coulson-resignation-statement?INTCMP=SRCH" target="_hplink">blaming media speculation</a> that he knew about phone hacking during his tenure of NoW. News editor Ian Edmondson was fired after allegations of phone hacking, and new information prompted police to re-open the investigation on NoW.
The News of the World admitted its role in phone hacking in a <a href="http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/notw/public/nol_public_news/1266448/News-International-statement-News-of-the-World-says-sorry.html" target="_hplink">public apology</a> on its website and paper. Former editor Edmondson and reporters <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/apr/14/phone-hacking-james-weatherup " target="_hplink">James Weatherup</a> and Neville Thurlbeck were arrested on charges of intercepting voicemail messages.
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jun/23/milly-dowler-murderer-levi-bellfield" target="_hplink">Levi Bellfield</a> was found guilty of murdering Milly Dowler, but a second charge that he had attempted to abduct another schoolgirl was abandoned after tabloid publicity made it impossible for the jury to reach a fair verdict. News of the World paid Sienna Miller £100,000 in damages after publishing 11 articles that used private information from her messages in 2005 and 2006, according to the <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jun/07/phone-hacking-news-of-the-world-sienna-miller">Guardian</a>.
Police notified Milly Dowler's family that NoW <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/04/news-of-the-world-hacked-milly-dowler_n_889809.html" target="_hplink">intercepted and deleted</a> the young woman's voice mail messages, destroying possible evidence in the search for her killer. New evidence also shows that NoW targeted <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14040841" target="_hplink">families of London's 7/7 bombings</a>.
Andy Coulson, former communications chief to David Cameron and ex-editor of News of the World, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/07/08/andy-coulson-arrested-as-_n_893013.html#liveblog" target="_hplink">was arrested</a> in the investigation on phone hacking at NoW.
The News of the World released its final issue after James Murdoch, head of parent company News Corp's operations in Europe, made the decision to shutter the paper. The move was expected to "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/07/news-of-the-world-closing_n_892239.html" target="_hplink">take some of the heat off immediate allegations about journalistic behavior and phone hacking</a>."
<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/i-was-targeted-too-gordon-brown-to-say-2311980.html" target="_hplink">Multiple news</a> <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jul/11/phone-hacking-news-international-gordon-brown" target="_hplink">outlets</a> reported that the Sun and the Sunday Times, also owned by parent company News International, had been hacking the voice mail box and other records of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown for years. The Sunday Times allegedly posed as Brown to obtain his financial records, and the Sun allegedly received details about Brown's son's cystic fibrosis. The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/11/news-international-murdoch-gordon-brown-hacking_n_894588.html" target="_hplink">revelations</a> mark the first time allegations have targeted News International's other papers.
News Corp <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/11/news-international-murdoch-gordon-brown-hacking_n_894588.html" target="_hplink">referred its bid to take over satellite broadcaster BSkyB</a> to the Competition Commission, which will delay the deal by at least six months as the company awaits regulatory clearance. British leaders have called for Murdoch to drop the bid, with Labor Party leader <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/blog/2011/jul/11/news-world-hacking-scandal-live#block-33" target="_hplink">Ed Millibrand calling the deal</a> "untenable" and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20110711/eu-britain-phone-hacking/" target="_hplink">Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg calling on News Corp</a> to "do the decent and sensible thing."
Rupert Murdoch <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/13/rupert-murdoch-news-corp-drops-bid-bskyb_n_896896.html" target="_hplink">withdrew its $12 billion bid for BSkyB</a>, the largest pay-TV broadcaster in Britain, after the British government withdrew its support the day before. The deal, which would have substantially increased Murdoch's foothold in the British media, appeared like it would sail through until last week. News Corp, which began to seek full ownership of BSkyB in March 2011, will keep its 39% stake in the company.
The FBI <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/14/fbi-news-corp-investigation_n_898653.html" target="_hplink">launched a probe into allegations that News Corp. attempted to hack the phones of September 11 victims</a> after Representative Peter King and other members of Congress wrote to FBI Director Robert Mueller demanding an investigation. Murdoch also <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/14/phone-hacking-murdoch-parliament-inquiry-rebekah-brooks_n_897998.html" target="_hplink">agreed give evidence before a parliamentary committee</a>. He had previously said that he was not available to attend the hearing, but relented after receiving a personal summons delivered to him and his son by a deputy sergeant-at-arms.
<a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304203304576448291349364376.html?mod=WSJ_hp_MIDDLETopStories" target="_hplink">Les Hinton announced his resignation as Dow Jones CEO</a>, and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/07/15/rebekah-brooks-resigns_n_899570.html?ir=Media&just_reloaded=1" target="_hplink">Rebekah Brooks stepped down as chief executive of News International</a>. Brooks presided over the News of the World during the phone hacking of murder victim Milly Dowler, and is scheduled to appear before a parliamentary committee next week. Murdoch also <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20110715/eu-britain-phone-hacking/" target="_hplink">met with Dowler's family to apologize</a>.
Brooks was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/07/17/rebekah-brooks-arrested-i_n_900899.html?ir=Media" target="_hplink">arrested</a> in connection with the scandal, throwing her scheduled appearance before Parliament on Tuesday into serious doubt. In addition, Sir Paul Stephenson, the head of Scotland Yard, resigned his position, becoming the highest-profile public official yet to lose his job because of the scandal. (The Met has itself been plunged into crisis for its lax handling of the scandal and for the corrupt ties police officers developed to News International.)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/18/britain-phone-hacking-scandal-resignations_n_901560.html" target="_hplink">John Yates, assistant commissioner of the British Metropolitan Police, stepped down</a> after the resignation of chief Paul Stephenson the previous night. The scandal has focused on British police for failing to investigate evidence of News of the World's phone hacking activities and for accepting bribes for information from tabloid writers. Yates decided not to reopen the investigation two years ago, saying he did not believe there was new evidence to consider.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/19/rupert-murdoch-parliament-rebekah-brooks-james-murdoch-phone-hacking_n_902316.html" target="_hplink">Rupert Murdoch, son James and former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks testified in front of a parliamentary committee</a>. All three insisted that they were not aware of phone hacking activities at the tabloid. Rupert Murdoch also made clear that he would not resign. Someone <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/19/rupert-murdoch-pie-video_n_903508.html" target="_hplink">attempted to pie Murdoch in the face with shaving cream</a>.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/21/james-murdoch-misleading-parliament_n_906083.html" target="_hplink">A former editor and a top lawyer for the News of the World accused Murdoch of lying in his testimony </a>that he had no knowledge of phone hacking at the tabloid. The two recall showing him an email between private investigation Glenn Mulcaire and then-reporter Neville Thurlbeck with transcripts of hacked voice messages. The investigation also <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/21/phone-hacking-investigation_n_905741.html" target="_hplink">threatened to spread to other newspapers</a> that were named for using a private investigator to illegally obtain information.
The Guardian reported that the News of the World <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/28/news-of-the-world-sarah-payne_n_912003.html" target="_hplink">hacked the phone of Sara Payne</a>, the mother of an 8 year old girl who was abducted and killed by a pedophile. The 2000 murder had prompted Rebekah Brooks to launch a campaign for a sex offender's law in Britain now known as "Sarah's Law." The phone that the tabloid hacked may have been one that Brooks personally gave to Payne in the aftermath of the tragedy, which Payne had praised as for helping her "stay in touch with my family, friends and support network."
Clive Goodman, a former News of the World reporter, has alleged that there was a massive coverup of phone hacking at the tabloid. He was arrested for phone hacking in 2007, and now claims that former editor Andy Coulson offered to let him keep his job in exchange for saying that he was the only person at the tabloid who hacked phones. The allegations are deeply damaging to Coulson and Rupert and James Murdoch, who have all maintained that they knew nothing about phone hacking.
Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator hired by the News of the World to intercept voicemails, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/18/glenn-mulcaire-phone-hacking-lawsuit_n_930537.html" target="_hplink">sued News Corp.</a> over the payment of his legal fees. The company had been paying his fees since 2007 when he was found guilty of hacking the phones of aides to the royal family, but recently terminated the arrangement after Rupert and James Murdoch's testimonies in Parliament. Mulcaire himself is the target of dozens of civil lawsuits filed by suspected victims of phone hacking.
Glenn Mulcaire has been ordered to release the names of people <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/19/glenn-mulcaire-ordered-reveal-phone-hacking_n_931175.html" target="_hplink">who ordered him to hack the phones of six public figures</a>. He is due to make the disclosure by the end of next week, as part of actor Steve Coogan's lawsuit against News Group. The revelations threaten to blow the defense presented by News of the World editors, who claim they knew nothing about phone hacking.
News breaks that the News of the World <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/22/milly-dowler-news-of-the-world-hacking_n_933049.html" target="_hplink">hacked even more of Milly Dowler's voicemails than previously assumed</a>.
News International is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/08/26/glenn-mulcaire-reveals-ne_n_938343.html" target="_hplink">continuing to pay Glenn Mulcaire's legal fees</a>, despite the company's insistence that it would stop. The previous month, the private investigator <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/08/26/glenn-mulcaire-reveals-ne_n_938343.html" target="_hplink">had released the names of people who ordered him to hack phones</a>, but the names were kept confidential.
News International announces the discovery of thousands of new documents related to phone hacking.
Milly Dowler's family is slated to receive <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/30/neville-thurlbeck-slams-news-of-the-world_n_989189.html?1319826500" target="_hplink">£3 million in a settlement</a> with News Corp.
Neville Thurlbeck, a former News of the World reporter, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/30/neville-thurlbeck-slams-news-of-the-world_n_989189.html?1319826500" target="_hplink">insists that he is innocent and was unfairly dismissed</a>. His account contrasts News Corp.'s defense, which places Thurlbeck as the single rogue reporter responsible for phone hacking at the News of the World.
News International <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/14/news-corp-lawsuit-77-phone-hacking-parliament_n_962262.html?1319826382" target="_hplink">faces a lawsuit from the parent of a 7/7 London bombing victim</a>, among at least 60 other lawsuits.
Yet another lawyer <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/19/julian-pike-news-international-phone-hacking_n_1019620.html" target="_hplink">has accused News International of misleading Parliament over its knowledge of phone hacking</a>. Julian Pike, a partner of the firm that used to represent the company, said that he saw evidence that there were more journalists involved in phone hacking in 2008. His testimony came after the company signed with a new law firm and Pike was no longer bound by client-attorney privilege.
Rupert Murdoch faced angry shareholders at News Corp.'s annual meeting. Shareholder after shareholder vented frustration with the company, and Murdoch struggled to remain calm, losing his temper at one point.
James Murdoch<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/24/james-murdoch-parliament-nov-10_n_1028191.html?1319830547" target="_hplink"> has been called back to testify in front of Parliament for the second time</a> on November 10. His testimony will focus on discrepancies in his account, given witnesses who have said that he signed off on phone hacking payouts to Gordon Taylor.
Les Hinton, the former CEO of Dow Jones, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/24/les-hinton-parliament-hacking-wsj_n_1028023.html?1319830551" target="_hplink">testified about phone hacking</a> in front of Parliament. The former publisher of the Wall Street Journal, who had previously testified on phone hacking in 2007 and 2009, denied that he misled Parliament in his past testimonies. He resigned in the summer, and was the most senior executive claimed by the scandal.
James, Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch were all re-elected to the board of News Corp. despite <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/10/25/a-third-of-news-corp-inve_n_1029860.html?ref=phone-hacking" target="_hplink">huge shareholder opposition to their leadership</a>. Their tenure was never in doubt, due to the company's shareholder structure, but the majority of shareholders voted against James and Lachlan.
A <a href="http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/romenesko/152070/news-corp-hr-chief-steps-down/" target="_hplink">series of internal News International memos</a> could be damning for James Murdoch, who is set to testify in front of Parliament for the second time next week. One of the documents was prepared for a meeting between James Murdoch and Colin Myler, the former editor who challenged his account of events, and specifically discusses the hacked voice mails. The notes of Julian Pike, then-lawyer for the company, also contain incriminating phrases like "paying them off."
James Murdoch <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/10/james-murdoch-parliament-testimony_n_1085624.html" target="_hplink">testified on phone hacking in Parliament</a> for a second time. The younger Murdoch faced new evidence that he may have been aware of phone hacking at the time of his company's settlement with footballer Gordon Taylor. He maintained his innocence, claiming that he was aware that Taylor had been hacked, but that he was unaware the News of the World had targeted others.
Former News of the World reporter Neville Thurlbeck <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/dec/07/phone-hacking-glenn-mulcaire-arrested?newsfeed=true" target="_hplink">speaks out against News International</a>. He said that he had been trying to warn the company about phone hacking for the past two years -- during which time he said he also collected evidence of the illicit crime at the tabloid. Police seized those materials the same week. Thurlbeck, who had been arrested for phone hacking, continued to maintain his innocence.
Former News of the World features editor Paul McMullan <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/29/paul-mcmullan-at-leveson-_n_1118809.html" target="_hplink">gave an explosive and freewheeling testimony</a> about the extent of phone hacking at the British tabloid. He appeared to admit engaging in the criminal activity himself, implicated Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, and hinted that Piers Morgan had a hand in establishing the cutthroat culture where phone hacking eventually became commonplace. Among the crazier things he said were that he loved celebrity car chases before Princess Diana's death, and that "privacy is for paedos" (pedophiles).
Glenn Mulcaire was arrested.
New emails between James Murdoch, Colin Myler and Tom Crone could be damaging for Murdoch's defense. Murdoch reveals that Myler emailed him in 2008, asking for a meeting about the Gordon Taylor affair. Also attached to the message was a series of emails between Myler and Tom Crone, which referenced phone hacking and Glenn Mulcaire.
Piers Morgan <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/19/piers-morgan-testifies-phone-hacking-leveson-inquiry_n_1159521.html" target="_hplink">testified on phone hacking</a> to the Leveson inquiry. He maintained that he had never hacked a phone or ordered anyone to do so. His testimony grew a bit heated after he refused to describe the circumstances under which he had heard one of Paul McCartney's voicemails to Heather Mills.
Jude Law was one of 37 victims of phone hacking <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/19/news-corp-phone-hacking-settlements-jude-law_n_1215594.html?ref=phone-hacking" target="_hplink">who received cash payouts from News Corp.</a> It was the largest group of settlements announced in the scandal thus far. Fifteen of the deals amounted to about $1 million. Law was one of sixty people who sued the company alleging that their phones had been hacked.
The Financial Times <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/31/news-corp-arrests-the-sun_n_1244517.html?ref=phone-hacking" target="_hplink">reported</a> that the launch of News International's forthcoming publication -- a Sunday version of The Sun -- was pushed back due to arrests at another one of the company's properties. Rupert Murdoch denied the report on Twitter. Four journalists at the Sun were arrested on charges of bribing the police.
Hell is breaking loose for Rupert Murdoch's empire again -- this time, for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/11/the-sun-arrests-police-bribery-murdoch-tabloid_n_1270214.html?ref=phone-hacking" target="_hplink">illegal payments from journalists to members of the police</a>. Five employees at the Sun, and three civil servants were arrested on Saturday. Sources said that Murdoch plans to continue to publish the paper, and that he will be traveling to London to meet with staff members. The trip had been reportedly planned before the arrests occurred.
Picture shows an arrangement of copies of The Sun newspaper front pages on February 13, 2012. Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid The Sun <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/13/sun-kavanagh-arrests-tabloid_n_1272909.html?ref=phone-hacking" target="_hplink">condemned</a> police raids against its journalists as a 'witch-hunt' worthy of former communist states, and won rare support from rival newspapers. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
News Corporation Chief Rupert Murdoch leaves his London home, on February 17, 2012. Rupert Murdoch said on February 17 he will launch a Sunday version of his top-selling British tabloid The Sun 'very soon', as he sought to boost morale among staff left angry and hurt by a wave of arrests. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
News Corporation Chief Rupert Murdoch holds up a copy of the newly launched 'The Sun on Sunday' newspaper as he leaves his London home on February 26, 2012. Rupert Murdoch's Sun on Sunday tabloid hit news stands on Sunday, replacing the defunct News of the World with a pledge to meet high ethical standards after a 'challenging' chapter in its history. AFP PHOTO/CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)
British police gave former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks a retired police horse to look after, it was confirmed on Feb. 28. The Metropolitan Police insisted it was not a gift horse. They said it was loaned to Brooks under a program that allows people to care for retired service animals.
James Murdoch <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/29/james-murdoch-steps-down-news-international_n_1309953.html?ref=media" target="_hplink">steps down</a> as the executive chairman of News International. He weathered speculation that he would resign for months since News Corp.'s phone hacking scandal broke in July 2011. He is resigning amidst continued allegations of phone hacking, and new explosive charges of bribery at the Sun.