Last week saw James Murdoch resign from the executive boards which run The Sun and The Times. Mr Murdoch, son and heir apparent of the media mogul Rupert, had played an integral role in defending his father’s company in over the past couple of months. It has become clear, however, that James was as embroiled in the scandal as any other player; thus this would appear to be a pre-emptive action ahead of calls for his resignation from the company as a whole.
The scandal, which has now achieved levels of infamy, seems to be spreading further into News International with every passing day. Mr Murdoch was head of the subsidiary company which oversaw the now-defunct newspaper; as such enquiries into the phone hacking allegations have ultimately led back to him as the authority behind the Editors’ Even though it has been acknowledged that he did know of the illegal actions that were being carried out, a recent Select Committee meeting has absolved him of all but incompetence and blind ignorance.
This resignation is only a small part of recent news concerning this scandal. The Levenson Inquiry is an ongoing investigation into the ethics and practices of the media in this country, with the ultimate aim of recommending new press regulations.
Several celebrities, those people who were targeted by the phone hacking, have been called to give evidence. Hugh Grant, who previously played a large role in exposing the scandal, has already testified about his experience with News International papers. He also delivered a damning report stating that it was entirely possible that The Mail on Sunday had also hacked his phone in 2007; if this turns out to be true then Rupert Murdoch’s media empire will be joined by The Daily Mail and General Trust in an ever growing web of journalistic failure.
J K Rowling also testified, calling for greater regulation of the media. She told the inquiry that she had had to stop newspapers from publishing photographs of her eight year old daughter in a bikini; in her own words, “a child, no matter who their parents are, deserves privacy.”
The general feeling of animosity towards the tabloid press, paparazzi and their privacy-encroaching attitudes is wielding a large amount of sway at the Inquiry and in the public at the moment. There are those, however, who believe that greater press regulations could lead to a diminishing of the free press. From one company’s foolish use of illegal journalistic devices, to the very nature of free speech – this scandal far surpasses one man’s resignation.
More recently, Murdoch managed to be re-appointed as BSkyB Chairman although a fifth of investors voted against him. This shows that for the Murdoch empire dodging bullets and tactical decision-making is all part of the daily proceedings of business.