News Corp. (NWSA) Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said Thursday he is creating an independent committee to investigate allegations of improper, and possibly illegal, reporting tactics at one of the companys British newspapers.
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In comments to The Wall Street Journal, his first lengthy remarks on the scandal, Murdoch said the committee would investigate every charge of improper conduct.
News Corp. owns the Journal and FOXBusiness.com.
Murdoch ordered the British tabloid News of the World shut down last week after numerous reports that reporters for the newspaper had hacked into celebrities, politicians and private citizens cell phones seeking information for stories.
Murdoch said a distinguished non-employee will head the independent committee. Its mandate will include investigating charges of impropriety by News Corp. employees and also creating a protocol for behavior for all News Corp. reporters.
Murdoch, while acknowledging some minor mistakes, said his executives have responded to the unfolding allegations extremely well in every way possible.
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The allegations had been around for years, but in recent weeks it was reported that reporters hacked into the phone of an abducted 13-year-old girl later found murdered. Public outrage followed and more allegations surfaced, including charges the phone of a former British Prime Minister was hacked and sensitive information related to the health of the politicians son retrieved.
Under growing pressure, News Corp. pulled the plug on a deal to take control of Britains largest pay television network, British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC. With the deal dead, Murdoch said the company is buying back shares and looking for better places to put our money.
On Thursday Murdoch and his son James, a top News Corp. executive in Britain, have agreed to testify during upcoming parliamentary hearings into the matter.
Murdoch said, contrary to rumors, that James Murdochs job is secure and he defended his sons handling of the crisis. I think he acted as fast as he could, the moment he could, the elder Murdoch said.
In addition, the chairman labeled rumors that News Corp. was considering selling its British newspapers as pure rubbish.
Murdoch told the Journal that News Corp. will recover from the scandal. We have a reputation of great good works in this country, he said.