James Murdoch: 'I could have asked more quesitons'

James Murdoch has expressed regret over the phone-hacking scandal that engulfed News International but insisted he has not misled Parliament.

The House of Commons culture committee today published a letter sent from James Murdoch to its chairman John Whittingdale, in which he insists he did not resign as executive chairman of News International because of his knowledge of phone-hacking and criminal wrongdoing.

But he told Whittingdale: ‘I take my share of responsibility for not uncovering wrongdoing earlier,” and acknowledged that in hindsight ‘it would have been better if I had asked more questions, requested more documents and scrutinised them more carefully”.

Murdoch added: ‘It would have been better if I had not relied on the people who had assured me that thorough investigations has been carried out and that further investigations were unnecessary, and the statement made by the police to the same effect.”

He insisted that at no point had he ever misled Parliament.

It was ‘reasonable, necessary’and ‘appropriate’for him to rely on senior executives, he said, but they had given him ‘incomplete answers’and ‘false assuarances”.

‘I did not know about, nor did try to hide, wrongdoing,’he said. ‘I do not believe the evidence before you supports any other conclusion.”

He also singled out evidence given to the committee by former News of the World editor Colin Myler and legal chief Tom Crone, claiming their testimony ‘displays inconsistencies”.

Murdoch went to reiterate claims that he had no knowledge of the ‘For Neville’that showed hacking was widespread at the News of the World.

His letter ends: ‘Clearly, with the benefit of hindsight, I acknowledge that wrongdoing should have been uncovered earlier. I could have asked more questions, requested more documents and taken a more challenging and sceptical view of what I was told, and I will do so in the future.

‘I have sought to explain, however, that it was reasonable for me to rely on m senior executives to inform me of what I needed to know. In this case the approach fell short.

‘But it is important to note that I did not turn a blind eye: I was given strong assurances about investigations recently done, and these assurances were echoed by the Metropolitan Police.

‘However, as I have said, I did not know about, nor did I try to hide, wrongdoing.”

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