Live updates from the culture select committee in which News Corporation chiefs Rupert and James Murdoch were quizzed by MPs about the phone-hacking scandal.
This live blog is now closed.
5.30pm: John Whittingdale closes the session and apologises “unreservedly” for the attack from a member of the public.
5.26pm: Rupert Murdoch making closing statement.
Mr. Chairman. Select Committee Members: With your permission, I would like to read a short statement.
My son and I have come here with great respect for all of you, for Parliament and for the
people of Britain whom you represent.
This is the most humble day of my career.
After all that has happened, I know we need to be here today. Before going further, James and I would like to say how sorry we are for what has happened - especially with regard to listening to the voicemail of victims of crime.
My company has 52,000 employees. I have led it for 57 years and I have made my share of mistakes. I have lived in many countries, employed thousands of honest and hardworking journalists, owned nearly 200 newspapers and followed countless stories about people and families around the world.
At no time do I remember being as sickened as when I heard what the Dowler family had to endure - nor do I recall being as angry as when I was told that the News of the World could have compounded their distress. I want to thank the Dowlers for graciously giving me the opportunity to apologise in person.
I would like all the victims of phone hacking to know how completely and deeply sorry I am. Apologizing cannot take back what has happened. Still, I want them to know the depth of my regret for the horrible invasions into their lives.
I fully understand their ire. And I intend to work tirelessly to merit their forgiveness. I understand our responsibility to cooperate with today’s session as well as with future inquiries. We will respond to your questions to the best of our ability and follow up if we are not capable of answering anything today. Please remember that some facts and information are still being uncovered.
We now know that things went badly wrong at the News of the World. For a newspaper that held others to account, it failed when it came to itself. The behavior that occurred went against everything that I stand for. It not only betrayed our readers and me, but also the many thousands of magnificent professionals in our other divisions around the world.
So, let me be clear in saying: invading people’s privacy by listening to their voicemail is wrong. Paying police officers for information is wrong. They are inconsistent with our codes of conduct and neither has any place, in any part of the company I run.
But saying sorry is not enough. Things must be put right. No excuses. This is why News International is cooperating fully with the police whose job it is to see that justice is done. It is our duty not to prejudice the outcome of the legal process. I am sure the committee will understand this.
I wish we had managed to see and fully solve these problems earlier. When two men were sent to prison in 2007, I thought this matter had been settled. The police ended their investigations and I was told that News International conducted an internal review. I am confident that when James later rejoined News Corporation he thought the case was closed too. These are subjects you will no doubt wish to explore today.
This country has given me, our companies and our employees many opportunities. I am grateful for them. I hope our contribution to Britain will one day also be recognised.
Above all, I hope that, through the process that is beginning with your questions today, we will come to understand the wrongs of the past, prevent them from happening again and, in the years ahead, restore the nation’s trust in our company and in all British journalism.
I am committed to doing everything in my power to make this happen.
5.35pm: Tom Watson commends Murdoch’s wife Wendi saying: “Your wife has a great left hook”.
5.23pm: Mensch to Rupert Murdoch - Have you considered resigning?
“No. People let me down and it’s for them to pay. I’m the best person to clean this up.”
5.20pm: TWEET @LisaBroadcast - “Just counted 8 police on security, one with a weapon. They are asked to look for glass + weapons. ‘Aerosols not on the list’. Will be now”
5.20pm: TWEET @CatNeilan - “Me to security: do you check for liquids or aerosols? Security: we will now”
5.09pm: Session restarts with Louise Mensch asking questions. Rupert Murdoch not wearing his suit jacket.
5.02pm: TWEET @LisaBroadcast - “ It was a custard pie thrown in ruperts face! Wendy attacked the attacker and threw the pie back at him. Honestly”
“Rupert quite shaken. Why cut short a democratic process like this? “
“Wendy fell to the ground, got up immediately and started hitting him 4 or 5 times “
4.53pm: Someone moves to attack Rupert Murdoch from the side of the table. Proceedings suspended for 10 minutes.
4.52pm: Have you been frustrated in this investigation?
JM: This has been a frustrating process to learn there was new evidence emerging as late as the end of 2010. What I’ve done is take new information, behave quickly and humbly to put it right. That does not mean I have knowledge of people intentionally misleading me in the company.
4.49pm: Rebekah Brooks said that in a year’s time, they might understand why the paper had to close. What is that significance of that time?
JM: I can’t speak to what she was referring to. She made those comments herself. But I can say that what happened at the NotW in the events leading up to 2007 affairs and prosecutions were bad and should have no place in our organisation. We are unreservedly and sincerely sorry for. There are ongoing police investigations and there have been people who have been arrested. Given the breach of trust and allegations that were emerging at a rapid pace it was clear to me… that it was the right thing for the paper to cease publication.
4.46pm: Is there a pressure on editors of your papers to take risks and break the law?
RM: “There is no excuse for breaking the law at any time. It is okay to campaign for a change in the law but never to break it.
“I want to say that I was brought up by a father who was not rich but was a great journalist. He, just before he died, he left me a small newspaper to do good. He exposed scandal of Galipoli which I remain very very proud of. I would love to see my sons and daughters follow that if they are interested.”
4.44pm: RM: “When the Daily Telegraph bought a series of stolen documents of all the expenses of MPs it caused a huge outcry one that has not been properly addressed. We should look to the most open society in the world – Singapore – where the politicians are paid up to a million there is no temptation. It’s the cleanest society anywhere.” [Laughter in the room]
4.42pm: RM: “Investigative journalism, particularly competitive, leads to a more transparent society even if it is inconvenient. We are a more open society than even the US.”
4.39pm: When asked about nepotism… Rupert Murdoch: “When the job became available at BSkyB several applied, including my son. It went to the board and outside experts who made the conclusion that he was the right person. The press had a field day.
“When I promoted him to take charge of wider responsibilities we had calls from many of the big shareholders saying it was a terrible thing to take him away because he had done such a great job.”
4.35pm: James Murdoch – there is a difference between being kept in the dark and the delegation of management.
4.32pm: TWEET @CatNeilan - “Amnesia or incompetence may not work after all. Paul Farrelly says james’ lack of knowledge is “frankly unsatisfactory”
4.30pm: Paul Farrelly – Is it possible editors of your newspaper would not have known about these activities?
Rupert Murdoch – can’t say because of police proceedings. It was my understanding Mr Myler was appointed by Mr Hinton to find out what was going on and he appointed Harbottle and Lewis.
4.20pm: Questions and answers getting bogged down in legalese. James offering to “get back” to the committe on a lot of information and not being able to speak for others. A lot of deflecting.
4.12pm: Paul Farrell – What was discovered in Harbottle and Lewis?
James Murdoch – there is an ongoing criminal investigation and it is wrong of me to make comments on what could be evidence. I have read some of it. My reaction immediately was to agree with the recommendations of the executives involved. To co-operate with the police.
4.07pm: Paul Farrell – if the organisation is still paying Glenn Mulcaire’s fees will you give the instruction for that to stop? Rupert Murdoch – if that does not breach legal agreements, yes.
4.06pm: James Murdoch – asked for the company to find a way to cease paying Mulcaire’s legal fees.
4.05pm: James Murdoch – When the allegations came out I asked are we doing this? These are serious litigations and it is important for all the evidence to get to court at the right time.
4.04pm: Paul Farrell - have you been paying legal fees for Glenn Mulcaire during the civil action?
4.03pm: James Murdoch - the company is being as generous as we can under the circumstances to the employees. It is a regrettable situation.
4.02pm: James Murdoch - closure of paper is a huge matter of regret. I advocated that this was a step [closing NOTW] that we should take.
4.02pm: Was NotW sacrificed to protect Rebekah Brooks position at News International? Was NotW offered up to deal with the whole thing? Do you regret closing the NotW to save Rebekah Brooks and do you wish you’d accepted her resignation to start with and those out of work.
Rupert Murdoch: “I regret the failure of those unable to find work. But the two decisions were unrelated. Totally unrelated.”
3.59pm: When asked why Rupert Murdoch didn’t ask Rebekah Brooks to resign, he replied: “Because I believe her and trusted her and do trust her. But she insisted. She was at a point of extreme anguish.”
3.59pm: Rupert Murdoch – can’t say how much Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton have been paid off. But Hinton’s pay off will be considerable because of pensions.
3.57pm: TWEET @LisaBroadcast - “I was very surprised to find out the company was making legal payments says james, but still can’t say who’s making them
3.56pm: Broadcast reporter Balihar Khalsa now taking over blogging.
3.55pm: TWEET @Jake_Kanter - “Didn’t think the proceedings were particularly revealing. Rupert visibly grumpy. James has been relatively impressive and more humble.”
3.53pm: James Murdoch - No direct knowledge of specific legal arrangements with NOTW royal correspondent Clive Goodman in 2007.
3.47pm: TWEET @LisaBroadcast - “Surely your weekly conversations with editors would involve ‘we’ve just paid Gordon Taylor £1m’. No.”
3.47pm: Rupert Murdoch says he wouldn’t have expected the NotW editors to disclose any out of court settlements during these conversations.
3.44pm: Rupert Murdoch says that he only normally spoke to the NotW editor “once a week on Saturday”. That conversation was “never” to influence the paper’s agenda.
3.42pm: Philip Davies takes up questions. James Murdoch says they were advised to appear in front of the committee and “tell the truth”.
3.41pm: Rupert Murdoch says News Corp was “not ever guilty” of “willful blindness”.
3.38pm: James Murdoch tells Lib Dem MP Adrian Sanders it is normal for out of court settlements - to the likes of Gordon Taylor - to remain undisclosed.
3.31pm: Murdochs succeeding in aim to bore us to death with blather and pauses - at least two journos asleep so far.
3.30pm: Rupert Murdoch: “This country benefits from a competitive press.”
3.28pm: James Murdoch says the company and country needs to think “more carefully” about journalistic ethics. He says NI has set up an independent standards committee to monitor the company’s practices. “It’s a much better way to go and we’d like to be judged on the actions the company has taken.”
3.27pm: Coffey seems a little nervous when reading out News Corp corporate governance standards. James Murdoch says every member of staff receives a “code of conduct” and lawyers carry out workshops on the rules for employees around the world.
3.21pm: On questions about legal settlements for phone hacking, James Murdoch says NI executives are empowered to spend budgets in the way they see fit. He does not know how much has been paid out in settlements in total.
3.17pm: Therese Coffey now asking questions. Rupert Murdoch says NotW was not closed for commercial reasons.
3.15pm: James Murdoch says he has no knowledge that News Corp is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office or HMRC.
3.12pm: Rupert Murdoch refuses to accept responsibility for the hacking scandal. “I trust the people that work for me.”
3.10pm: Rupert Murdoch claims a lot of people built the “conspiracy against” News Corp’s BSkyB takeover. “A mood developed which made it impractical to continue.”
3.08pm: TWEET @CatNeilan - “Murdoch invited to No. 10 after election for thanks for support. He went through back entrance: “I just do what I’m told” “
3.08pm: Jim Sheridan takes up questioning. Rupert Murdoch says it is “strange” he was asked to enter 10 Downing Street “through the back door” soon after last year’s general election. It was at the request of prime minister David Cameron and Gordon Brown asked the same, Murdoch claims.
3.05pm: Rupert Murdoch: “News of the World closed because we had broken our trust with our readers.”
3.04pm: Tom Watson - It’s revealing what [Rupert] doesn’t know and what executives chose not to tell him.
3.03pm: TWEET @ConorDignam - “I am feeling sorry for Rupert Murdoch. That’s a first. I also think this spells the end of him as chairman/chief executive of News Corp.”
3.01pm: TWEET @LisaBroadcast - “Much love in the room for Tom Watson.”
3pm: TWEET @ChrisMCurtis - “Rupert may not be my favourite man on the planet, but this is so painful to watch. He’s just not up to it.”
2.59pm: James Murdoch has stepped in and asks John Whittingdale to answer questions on minutia of phone hacking. Tom Watson refuses and says Rupert is “in charge of corporate governance”.
2.58pm: Rupert Murdoch: “I was absolutely shocked, appalled and ashamed when I heard about the Milly Dowler case only two weeks ago.”
2.57pm: Rupert Murdoch is visibly irritable. Claiming ignorance on questions about settlements to phone hacking victims Gordon Taylor and Max Clifford. Questions deferred to James.
2.54pm: TWEET @CatNeilan - “Murdoch knows nothing about it. Any of it. Incompetence triumphs over involvement. Tom Watson grilling him good and proper.”
2.53pm: Murdoch being uncooperative - attempting to defer to son James - and giving monosyllabic answers to repeated questions from Tom Watson.
2.49pm: TWEET @CatNeilan - “Tom Watson - if you weren’t lying then, someone was lying to you. Who? Murdoch: don’t know “
2.49pm: Labour MP Tom Watson has taken up the baton. Questions Rupert Murdoch directly about payments to police. Murdoch largely ignores the questions and punctuates points on News Corp’s achievements my slapping his hand on the table.
2.47pm: James Murdoch: “I have no knowledge that Rebekah Brooks of Les Hinton were aware of phone hacking. “There is no evidence of impropriety”.
2.46pm: James Murdoch: “We have established a group at News International to co-operate with the police investigation. It will provide evidence “sometimes proactively”.”
2.45pm: James Murdoch: the critical new facts emerged in civil trials at the end of 2010. “It’s a matter of deep frustration and regret that the facts [could not have come to light] sooner.”
2.44pm: TWEET @CatNeilan - “James Murdoch talking without referring to counsel-quite surprising given investigation-but sticking to his initial line”
2.41pm: James seems to be taking the lead on answering questions. Rupert is sitting alongside on looking pensive.
2.41pm: TWEET @LisaBroadcast - “Everyone here erupts into laughter at Rupert’s ‘most humble day of my life’ comment”
2.40pm: Rupert Murdoch - “I would just like to say one sentence. This is the most humble day of my life.”
2.38pm: James Murdoch apologises to phone hacking victims. “First of all I would just like to say how sorry I am and how sorry we are to particularly the victims of the illegal voicemail interceptions and to their families.
”It is a matter of great regret, of mine, of my father’s, and everyone at News Corporation.
“These actions do not live up to the standards that our company aspires to everywhere around the world and it is our determination to put things right, to make sure these things do not happen again and to be the company that I know we have always aspired to be.”
2.37pm: Whittingdale: obvious there have been “abuses” at the News of the World and parliament has been “misled”.
2.37pm: TWEET @CatNeilan - “John Whittingdale looks like a less than impressed headteacher”
2.37pm: Committee chairman John Whittingdale asks for some protestors to be removed.
2.36pm: TWEET @CatNeilan - “James Murdoch’s request to make opening statement denied.”
2.35pm: TWEET @LisaBroadcast - “People getting angry they can’t get in main room despite queueing since 10.”
2.35pm: TWEET @CatNeilan - “More journalists/general audience than I’ve seen at a committee hearing. Usher describes it as “unprecedented madness”
2.34pm: Rupert and James ghost along the corridor to committee room and take their seats.
2.33pm: Rupert and James Murdoch preparing to enter chamber. Proceedings running a little late.
2.31pm: Tory MP David Davis: “They should start with an apology.”
2.31pm: TWEET @CatNeilan - “Outside protesters are calling for Cameron to resign, murdoch to go to jail and threatening a general strike to get it.”
2.31pm: TWEET @CatNeilan (deputy news editor, Broadcast) - “Murdochs are in the building, committee usher has told me.”
2.30pm: TWEET @LisaBroadcast - “People running along corridors to different rooms trying to get a glimpse of murdoch. So many diff entrances its like a wild goose chase.”
2.28pm: Alastair Campbell: it will be interesting to hear whether Rupert Murdoch engendered a phone hacking “culture” at the News of the World from the top of News Corporation.
2.10pm: TWEET from @ChrisMCurtis (deputy editor, Broadcast) What is Rupert hoping for? “Survival of his empire”, according to Tory MP David Davis.
2.08pm: Alastair Campbell: James and Rupert are “likely to get irritated” under questioning. Suggests they won’t have a great deal of respect for the MPs on the committee.
2.05pm: BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg says she has never seen Portcullis House so busy. “It’s the hottest ticket in town.”
2pm: Broadcast reporter Jake Kanter is now following the run-up to the start of the select committee.
1.54pm: @LisaBroadcast - “Jemima Khan is here”
1.51pm: TWEET from @LisaBroadcast (Lisa Campbell, editor, Broadcast)
People been queuing since 8pm. Only 15 journos got into main room which seats 70.
1.23pm: Protesters outside the select committee demand “clean up press”, “clean up parliament”