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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