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The Daily Need

The Murdochs testify before the British Parliament

Earlier today, Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks testified before the British Parliament. We followed the blow-by-blow coverage via CNN and The New York Times’ Lede blog.

The News International trio was preceded by Paul Stephenson, former commissioner of London’s Metropolitan police who resigned his post over the weekend; Dick Fedorico, the Met’s director of public affairs; and John Yates, former assistant commissioner of the Met who resigned from his position yesterday.

During his testimony, Rupert Murdoch denied culpability for the News of the World cellphone-hacking scandal, and laid blame with “the people I trusted and the people they trusted.” He also went on to deny rumors of an imminent resignation. “I feel people I trusted have let me down…and it’s for them to pay,” said Murdoch. “I think that I’m the best person to clean this up.”

Rupert Murdoch balanced his defiant stance with statements of contrition. “We are ashamed of what had happened and felt we should bring it to a close,” said the elder Murdoch of the News of the World. “We had broken our trust with our readers.” Even in the middle of his son’s own apology, the media mogul interrupted to tell the assembled committee that, “This is the most humble day of my life.”

Brooks, the former News International CEO, also prefaced her statement with an apology, but quickly tried to diffuse blame by pointing out that other British newspapers had also employed private investigators and hacked phones in pursuit of stories. She later denied any knowledge that Milly Dowler, the 13-year-old murder victim whose voicemail interception spurred this scandal, had been hacked in 2002. Though the hacking occurred under Brooks’ watch as editor, she said that no one “in their right mind” would have allowed it to happen.

Questions regarding the payment of legal fees also arose during today’s hearing. James Murdoch claimed to be shocked upon learning that News International paid the legal fees for Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman, the first two News of the World phone hackers jailed for intercepting messages back in 2007. Rupert Murdoch intimated that this payment could have been authorized by Les Hinton, the former News International CEO, who resigned from his post as Dow Jones CEO late last week.

In terms of across-the-pond hacking, Rupert Murdoch said that he did not believe that 9/11 victims were targeted by News of the World phone hackers, and had seen “no evidence” to indicate that this happened.

The hearing’s high point, however, came when Murdoch pere‘s testimony was interrupted by a protester who made a lunge for the father-son duo with a pie plate full of shaving cream. The Lede blog reported that a British activist by the name of Jonnie Marbles coordinated the attack.

“It is a far better thing that I do now than I have ever done before #splat,” Marbles later tweeted.

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