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April 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Rupert Murdoch has conceded that a cover-up took place at News International over the voicemail hacking by reporters for News of the World and that it was engineered by “one or two very strong characters.” He declined to name them “because for all I know they may be arrested yet.” After the cover-up was exposed by Britain’s Guardian newspaper and the New York Times, “our response was far too defensive,” he said, adding, somewhat cryptically, “and worse, disrespectful of Parliament.” Appearing for a second day before the Leveson committee looking into ethics in British journalism, Murdoch issued a series of additional mea culpas. About closing down the News of the World: “I’ll say it succinctly: I panicked, but I’m glad I did, and I’m sorry I didn’t close it years before.” (He did not disclose why he would have wanted to close it years before.) About claims by the fired NoW royal reporter Clive Goodman that telephone hacking was rife at the newspaper: “I should have thrown all the lawyers out of the place and seen Mr. Goodman one on one and cross-examined him myself … And if I had come to the conclusion that he was telling the truth, I’d have gone in and torn the place apart and we wouldn’t be here today.” However, he also maintained that he had been “misinformed and shielded” from the actual facts by subordinates. Asked about the 2008 payment of £700,000 (about $1.2 million) to Gordon Taylor, head of the Professional Footballers’ Association, to settle a telephone-hacking lawsuit — a settlement that critics have called hush money — Murdoch said that at the time “the size seemed incredible. It still does seem incredible.” He maintained that his son James had signed off on the settlement upon the advice of the NoW‘s editor and lawyer. “[James] was pretty inexperienced at the time,” he said. Murdoch’s statement appeared to be in conflict with one he made in 2009 when the settlement was first uncovered by the Guardian. “If that had happened, I would have known about it,” Murdoch said in an interview with the New York Times.” At another point during the proceedings, Murdoch insisted that the editorial policies of his newspapers are not influenced by News Corp’s commercial interests. Specifically, he said that he has never asked the editors of his newspapers to promote Fox TV shows or movies. “You should read the critics in the New York Post on films made by Fox,” he said, referring to one of his newspapers. “They kill them!”