Rupert and James Murdoch on Tuesday said there was no evidence that the phone-hacking scandal that took down the News of the World involved victims of the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks.
Given that accusations about 9/11 came to light recently, News Corporation is still investigating, but “I’m aware of no evidence” that supports the allegations, James Murdoch said during an appearance before the UK’s Commons culture committee, which was broadcast online.
Last week, it was revealed that the FBI was investigating reports that the News of the World cell phone hacking scandal extended to 9/11 victims. The move came after several high-profile members of Congress expressed concern that the UK phone hacks—which affected family members of the July 2005 London terror bombings, as well as a young murder victim and celebrities—also included 9/11.
When asked about it at today’s hearing, Rupert Murdoch quickly said “we have no evidence of that at all” before James stepped in with a more cautious statement.
“Those are incredibly serious allegations and they’ve come to light very recently. We do not know the veracity of those allegations and we’re trying to understand exactly what they are,” James said.
He said it would be “appalling [if] anyone associated with any of our papers would’ve done something like that, [but] I’m aware of no evidence about that.”
James said News Corp. “will eagerly cooperate with any investigations” because “that activity would have absolutely no place” at the company.
Rupert Murdoch opened his testimony by stating that “this is the most humble day of my life,” but denied that he was at fault for the phone-hacking scandal, instead placing blame on the “people I trusted … and the people they trusted.”
“This is not an excuse,” he continued, but “the News of the World is less than 1 percent of our company. I employ 53,000 people around the world who are proud and great and ethical and distinguished … professionals. I’m spread watching and appointing people in my trust to run those divisions.”
After several hours of testimony, meanwhile, the hearing was disrupted suddenly when a man lunged at Rupert Murdoch and threw something that looked like shaving cream in his face. Rupert Murdoch’s wife Wendi, who was seated behind her husband, jumped up quickly and slapped the assailant before police removed the man from the room.
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