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July 19, 2013updated 22 Jul 2013 1:07pm

Murdoch admits ‘wrong’ words used in Sun meeting, but says police investigations have taken ‘too long’

By William Turvill

Rupert Murdoch has admitted using some "wrong" words in the “highly emotional meeting” earlier this year recorded by Sun staff.

The News Corp chairman  has admitted that he has no basis for questioning the competence of the police, but said it was his personal view that the investigations into News International (now News UK) have gone on for “too long”.

Murdoch revealed that the company has spent £65m over two years helping police with their inquiries. He said 23m electronic documents had been assembled for review and that 500,000 documents had been disclosed after 185,000 “man hours of work”.

“Our voluntary disclosure of any evidence we could find suggesting criminality led to dozens of arrests of our employees,” he wrote in a letter to Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee.

“Obviously we did not treat any of this alleged wrongdoing as 'nothing'. I did not intend to suggest that any violations of the law are tolerable or acceptable; after we volunteered this material to the MPS, no one who works for us could believe that we tolerate or accept violations of the law.”

Murdoch was responding to concerns raised by Vaz in the wake of the release of tape recordings from the March 2013 meeting with Sun staff.

In the recordings, Murdoch appeared to admit knowledge of payments to public officials, saying it had been going on for "a hundred years".

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He also described police as "totally incompetent" and said the inquires were "unbelievably slow".

He wrote: “I accept that I used the wrong adjectives to voice my frustration over the course of the police investigation. But I had been hearing for months about pre-dawn raids undertaken by as many as 14 police officers, and that some employees and their families were left in limbo for as much as a year and a half between arrest and charging decisions.”

He admitted he was in no position to question police, but wrote: “I do question whether, over the last two years, the police have approached these matters with an appropriate sense of proportion, and with regard for the human cost of delay.

“While I regret my choice of words in that highly emotional meeting, I care deeply about our employees, and I was and am troubled by the effect of these events on them.”

Murdoch claimed that after volunteering a “mountain of evidence” to the MPS, the company received 1,900 follow up requests for assistance and that more than 98 per cent of those have already been resolved.

“It would not be fair even to suggest that our Company has impeded the MPS. The opposite is true,” he wrote.

Murdoch added: “I am in no position to judge the competence of the investigation and should never have done so. My own lay view is that it has been more than thorough, indeed in some respects appeared to hto be excessive.

“I cannot endorse the judgement that the investigation has progressed very well, not when some of our employees were arrested early in the investigation in 2012 and they and their families are still in limbo awaiting charging decisions.

“I appreciate that the decision to arrest is entirely a matter for the police, that the decision to charge is for the Crown and that AC Dick has far more knowledge  than I about the progress of the investigation. That said, my personal view is that this has gone on too long.”

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