A British parliamentary cross-party committee has condemned News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch as being unfit to lead his media empire, saying he effectively looked the other way relating to the News of The World tabloid phone hacking scandal.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party voted against the report.
The head of the opposition, meanwhile, has accused Cameron of covering up alleged improper activity by a minister in the scandal of News Corp’s failed attempt to take over British pay television operator BSkyB.
The parliamentary committee’s judgement also calls into question News Corp’s fitness to control BSkyB; the company has a 39 percent stake.
Detractors are further suspicious that Murdoch Senior and his son James – whose competence was also blasted by the committee – enjoyed favourable treatment in their bid to buy the whole of the broadcaster.
A judge-led probe into media ethics revealed that emails from Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt showed he keenly supported the bid. That appeared to conflict with official non-bias.
Hunt told reporters: “I will be handing over all my private texts and emails to my special advisor to the Leveson Inquiry and I am confident they will vindicate the position that I handled the BSkyB merger process with total integrity.”
Labour party leader Ed Miliband said Cameron “is defending the indefensible, protecting the culture secretary.”
If Hunt stepped down it would focus more light on the prime minister and his own once close ties with News Corp.
Cameron could face further embarrassment as former Murdoch confidante and News Corp executive Rebekah Brooks prepares to reveal text messages and emails between herself and Cameron, a former friend.