14 Mar 2012

James Murdoch’s final plea to MPs who may decide his future soon

Here’s the James Murdoch letter the FT was writing about this morning now published in full by the culture committee.

I can’t remember anything quite like it, written as a last minute plea for clemency/justice/mercy, depending on your point of view. He says he’s been a “diligent and transparent” witness, a victim of his own executives pulling the wool over his eyes.

I can’t remember when select committees have held such potential sway over such a high-profile international business career. 

It sounds as though the committee is now getting into the nitty-gritty of going line-by-line through a draft report, and the language it uses over James Murdoch will be the stickiest work.

Will the committee accuse James Murdoch of being complicit in some sort of cover-up? Listening to the evidence sessions, you sensed strongly that three MPs were very uncomfortable with that sort of approach.

Will the committee accuse James Murdoch of wilfully misleading Parliament? Again, some MPs just might not go there.

Will it condemn him for incompetent supervision of a major company? That, it seems, is where the potential for damage to James Murdoch lies, and those familiar with News Corporation think he could quickly be removed from his job at BSkyB if the wording was damning enough. 

As James Murdoch admits in the letter (written on Monday), “I could have asked more questions, requested more documents and taken a more challenging and sceptical view of what I was told …” But he relied instead on “senior executives to inform me of what I needed to know…The approach fell short”.
The committee had hoped to publish before the end of this month, when parliament takes an Easter break. It’s not clear whether it’ll actually be published this side of Easter or not.

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5 reader comments

  1. Philip says:

    There are evidently still some MPs who don’t want to bite a hand that may feed them/bite them back in future.
    This episode has to do something to make the future better than the recent past.
    We need a media that is transparent; informs on the basis of facts & separates reporting on events from comment; seeks to be truthful & accurate at all times; helps people understand the world around them in a balanced & realistic way rather than feeding them packets of selective information, selected & wrapped to give people a specific view of the world and are otherwise fed pap (the 90% of content which deals with celeb “news”).
    If you’ve seen “Wall-E”, we are currently like the obese humans in the spaceship,kept in a state of passive obedience by the combined media/political system which gives us an illusion of influence & knowledge while in reality we are powerless. The trick is making us think we aren’t – or making us uninterested.

  2. Philip Edwards says:


    I thought Tom Watson MP got it right when he told Murdoch, “You must be the only Mafia don who didn’t know what his gang was doing.”

    Succinct and to the point, even though dear James said it was “inappropriate.”

  3. Nigel Cheffers-Heard says:

    Yet again, spineless politicians will whitewash their verdict on one of the rich and powerful. What happened to “the buck stops here”? Tom Watson’s Mafia crack was spot on, but several of the others just can’t say it, can they?

  4. Andrew Dundas says:

    Surely it must always be a Court that sits in judgement of individuals’ actions?
    The Committee should still be able to arrive at a useful conclusion.
    James Murdoch’s letter amounts to a confession of his own lack of competence in overseeing UK News International’s responsibilities to its stakeholders including shareholders, personnel and its readers. The committee might therefore decide that in the special case of news media, such incompetences in oversight now requires some change in the Law.
    Whilst it is for a Court to decide whether Murdoch’s incompetence means he should cease to be a Company Director, it is up to the Board of Sky and its shareholders to decide whether they want such a person to remain as a director. I would not.

  5. sue_m says:

    If the MPs don’t have the backbone to say what is blatantly obvious to all – that James Murdoch either knew what was happening and didn’t prevent it or that he suspected and chose to bury his head in the sand – then the whole inquiry has been a waste of time and money! Clearly, politicians charged with running our country are still in fear or awe of the Murdochs. If they don’t stand up to be counted now when NI has been shown to be a shameful, greed at any cost organisation, then they never will. Lets hope their constituents remember at the next election.

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