James Murdoch testifies in U.K. phone-hacking inquiry for third time

Dylan Stableford
The Cutline

James Murdoch testified for a third time in the U.K. phone-hacking investigation on Tuesday, telling the Leveson Inquiry in London that he did not know the phone hacking at News of the World was widespread while he was in charge of News International, News Corp.'s British publishing arm.

And as he had done in previous appearances before the committee, Murdoch distanced himself from the scandal, saying the responsibilities were "very much in the hands of the editor."

"I was not told sufficient information to go and turn over a whole bunch of stones that I was told had already been turned over," Murdoch told the special committee. "I don't think that, short of knowing they weren't giving me the full picture, I would've been able to know that at the time."

Murdoch suggested that those under him did not tell him about phone hacking out of fear for their colleagues' jobs.

"I think that must be it, that I would say, 'Cut out the cancer,' and there was some desire to not do that," he said.

Murdoch also testified about his family's chummy longtime relationship with British Prime Minister David Cameron, confirming he had at least 10 meetings with Cameron dating back to 2009.

At one such meeting, hosted by ex-News International chief Rebekah Brooks in 2010, Murdoch said he discussed News Corp.'s proposed takeover of British broadcaster BSkyB.

"There was no discussion with Mr. Cameron other than to reiterate what we'd said publicly," Murdoch said. "I imagine I expressed a hope that things would be dealt with in a way that was appropriate and judicial. He reiterated what he'd said publicly. It was a tiny side conversation at a dinner where other people were there. It wasn't really a discussion."

But Murdoch dismissed the notion that the meetings were unethical.

"I don't know what all of the other meetings that the PM and these people take in general," Murdoch said. "It's true to say politicians and people around the political class are very eager to get their point across, they do talk to the press. As a business person I don't think I've personally experienced that, I haven't actually spent that much time with politicians personally."

James' father, Rupert Murdoch, will attend the inquiry on Wednesday--his first appearance in front of the committee since last summer, when he testified alongside his son.

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