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James Murdoch Expresses 'Great And Real Regret' Over Phone Hacking In Letter To Parliament

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JAMES MURDOCH
PA

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.

Murdoch's letter to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee was made public on Wednesday afternoon, as committee chair John Whittingdale had told the Guardian ahead of time.

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.

James Murdoch's Letter To Parliament

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