As part of the ongoing fallout from the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal, James Murdoch, who earlier this year resigned as head of Murdoch's UK newspaper empire, today appeared at a judicial inquiry about press culture in the UK.
In keeping with his (and his father's) pattern of denying knowledge of the extent of the hacking at the News of the World tabloid, Murdoch reportedly told the inquiry that News of the World executives kept him in the dark about the scale of the hacking problem.
He has consistently maintained that the paper's management failed to alert him to the scale of the problem.
“Knowing what we know now about the culture at the News of the World in 2006, and from what we know about the alleged widespread nature of these poor practices, then it must have been cavalier about risk and that is a matter of huge regret,” James Murdoch told a packed courtroom.
Asked if he read the weekly News of the World, he said “I wouldn't say I read all of it,” and asked about its daily sister paper, the Sun, he said he had “tried to familiarize myself with what was in it” .
Murdoch was also pressed on a 2008 email chain that mentioned a “nightmare scenario” involving potential legal consequences of phone hacking at News of the World. When these emails first surfaced in December, Murdoch released a statement admitting to both receiving and replying to the email, but also denying having read “the full e-mail chain.” According to the BBC, Murdoch repeated this defense today:
In December, another email from 2008 was released indicating Mr Murdoch had been copied into messages referring to the “rife” practice of phone hacking at the News of the World and also citing the “For Neville” email.
Mr Murdoch has said although he was copied into the email, he did not read it fully.
He told the inquiry: “I didn't read the email chain. It was a Saturday, I had just come back from Hong Kong, I was with my children. I responded in minutes.”
He said he now accepts that the “For Neville” email was “a thread” that raised the suspicion of wider phone hacking at the News of the World.
“The fact it suggested other people might have been involved in phone hacking - that part of its importance was not imparted to me that day,” he said.
News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch is scheduled to appear before inquiry on Wednesday and Thursday.