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Tuesday
Jul192011

Rupert Murdoch: 'People I Trusted' Are Responsible for Hacking Fiasco

Rupert Murdoch is questioned by members of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, July 19, 2011. (ABC News)UPDATE: Tuesday's hearing was temporarily suspended after a man attempted to attack Rupert Murdoch as he spoke before the British Parliament.

(LONDON) -- News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch told a British Parliament committee probing phone hacking by his journalists that he is not responsible for the scandal that has embroiled his media empire.

"Mr. Murdoch do you accept you are ultimately responsible for this whole fiasco?" asked Jim Sheridan, a member of Parliament.

"No," replied Murdoch, explaining that people he hired and trusted and the people who they hired and trusted were responsible. He mentioned Les Hinton, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, who resigned on Friday. Hinton and Murdoch have worked together for 52 years, including while Hinton was chief executive of News International, Murdoch's British newspaper publisher.

"I would trust him with my life," Murdoch said of Hinton.

The committee opened hearings into the phone hacking scandal that has roiled the media, police, and the public in Britain. Murdoch's son, James, began by saying that what happened at the company's now closed News of the World newspaper was not in keeping with the company's standards.

"I have to tell you I sympathize with the frustration of this committee," James Murdoch said. "It's a matter of real regret that the facts could not emerge and could not be gotten to, to my understanding, faster."

Rupert Murdoch's first comment to Parliament was that Tuesday is the "most humble day of my life."

In answer to a number of questions, Rupert Murdoch said he did not recall exact details and paused for moments before responding.

"We have broken our trust with our readers," a grim Rupert Murdoch said.

One member of Parliament, Tom Watson, asked Rupert Murdoch whether Rebekah Brooks or James Murdoch informed him that victims of phone hacking received monetary settlements. Rupert Murdoch said he did not remember precisely, but his son likely informed him. The elder Murdoch also looked to his son when asked who was the lead counsel of his company at one point.

James Murdoch interrupted questioning several times in a careful, measured manner to ask if he could instead answer questions, but Watson said he preferred to ask the elder Murdoch questions regarding corporate governance.

Rupert Murdoch said he is not "hands off" in his management style and works a 10 to 12 hour workday, but he was not aware of all the details of News of the World, which comprises less than 1 percent of his entire company.

"I employ more than 53,000 people around the world," the elder Murdoch said.

Rebekah Brooks is also set to appear before British Parliament on Tuesday about the phone hacking at their tabloid News of the World, which shuttered in the wake of the scandal.

It is alleged that the publication's journalists hacked the phones of 4,000 people, from stars to crime victims, to get juicy stories -- all with the encouragement of top editors at the paper and aided by some in the police force.

The Murdoch name has been synonymous with News Corp. even before it was incorporated in 1979. Rupert Murdoch, the only son of Sir Keith Murdoch, took over his father's newspaper publishing business, News Limited, after the elder Murdoch passed away in 1952.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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