After a months-long probe of the hacking scandal that rocked Rupert Murdoch's media empire, a British parliamentary panel today (Tuesday) issued its final report, which included the unforeseen conclusion that Rupert Murdoch is "not a fit person" to run the company. The Commons Committee on Culture, Media and Sport had been expected to criticize some of Murdoch's top executives at News International, which operates News Corp's newspapers in the U.K., but few if any observers had expected that it would come down so hard on the company's chairman/CEO. In fact, the committee itself proved to be deeply divided over the final language, with the ruling Conservative Party members opposing the censure of Murdoch but the opposition Labor and Liberal Democrats supporting it. It accused Murdoch of turning "a blind eye ... to what was going on in his companies and publications." But a Louise Mensch, a Conservative member of the committee, said that she objected to the condemnation of Murdoch as "not a fit person." She told The New York Times, "We all thought that was wildly outside the scope of a select committee" and "was an improper attempt to influence" OFCOM, the British media regulator that is looking into whether News Corp is "fit and proper" to control BSkyB, the principal satellite broadcaster in the U.K. The final report, as expected, was sharply critical of Murdoch's son James, the former chairman of News International, who had acknowledged that he did not read an email warning him that telephone hacking was rife at News of the World , the British tabloid that was eventually shut down because of the scandal. "Had James Murdoch been more attentive to the correspondence that he received at the time, he could have taken action on phone hacking in 2008," it said. The report accused News Corp of trying to blame underlings for the scandal while "striving to protect more senior figures, most notably James Murdoch."

01/05/2012