News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch testified Thursday to the U.K. committee on media ethics that there was indeed a phone-hacking "cover-up" at News International—led by "one or two very strong characters"—and that he had "failed" to uncover it.
"Someone took charge of a cover-up, which we were victim to and I regret," Murdoch told the Leveson Inquiry in London on his second straight day of testimony. "I also have to say that I failed ... and I am very sorry for it."
Murdoch, though, insisted the cover-up was not engineered by the company's top executives. "There was no attempt, by me or several levels below me, to cover it up," Murdoch said. "We set up inquiry after inquiry, we employed legal firm after legal firm. Perhaps we relied too much on the conclusions of the police."
The 81-year-old said he panicked last summer when it was revealed that News of the World had hacked into the voice mail of Milly Dowler, a missing 13-year-old who was later found murdered. Murdoch shut the tabloid down a few days later.
"You could feel the blast coming in the window," Murdoch said of the scandal. "I can say it succinctly. I panicked. And I am sorry I did."
But the media mogul also said he should have closed News of the World "years before" the phone-hacking revelations. "This whole business is a serious blot on my reputation," he said.Read More »from Rupert Murdoch admits phone-hacking ‘cover-up’: ‘I failed’