James Murdoch defends executive Brooks

Thu Jul 7, 2011 3:03pm EDT
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LONDON, Jul (Reuters) - News International Chairman James Murdoch said on Thursday he regretted the phone-hacking scandal that has led to the closure of the News of the World tabloid and defended his chief executive Rebekah Brooks, a former editor of the paper.

"I am satisfied that Rebekah, her leadership of this business and her standard of ethics and her standard of conduct throughout her career, are very good," Murdoch said in a television interview.

Some media commentators said that the 168-year-old newspaper had been sacrificed to keep Brooks in her job and help smooth the way for parent company News Corp to complete the takeover of pay TV company BSkyB.

Murdoch would not be drawn on suggestions the News of the World would be replaced by a Sunday version of the Sun newspaper, its daily stablemate.

"I'm convinced that Rebekah Brooks' leadership of the company is the right thing, she's doing the right thing for the company. It's her leadership that has really got to grips with this whole period in the company's history.

"Her leadership is actually crucial right now, it's actually what's been moving a lot of this forward."

Asked about the Sun moving to a seven-day operation, Murdoch said: "I think right now the focus very much is on putting out the last edition of the News of the World, and the journalists at the News of the World are working already very hard on that, and any decisions about the future are really for next week or the week after to think about how we go forward from there."

Murdoch said a decision on the BSkyB deal was in the hands of the government. More than 100,000 people have submitted a response to a consultation which closes on Friday.3

"It's really in the hands of the Secretary of State about how he deals with the submissions that he's received in that consultation, and how they want to move forward.

"It does take time for them to deal with those things but that timetable is in the Secretary of State's hands."

(Reporting by Michael Holden and Avril Ormsby, editing by Keith Weir)