Louise Mensch on Newsnight

Mensch: 'We lost our chance to produce a unified credible report where we all agreed'

The accusation that Rupert Murdoch 'is not a fit person" to lead a "major international company" was "hijacked" into the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee's report, Louise Mensch MP said last night, and as a result the report is "essentially worthless".

Publication of the committee's report into phone hacking yesterday which unanimously found the committee had been misled by individuals such as Tom Crone, Colin Myler and Les Hinton, revealed divisions within the committee on a number of issues.

This included a concluding paragraph in the report which claimed that if News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch did not seek to "become fully informed" about wrongdoing then "he turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness".

"This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organisation and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International. We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company."

This part of the report was passed by a majority of six to four. During a press conference yesterday Mensch said the line was "stuck in" while Philip Davies MP branded its inclusion as "completely ludicrous".

Speaking on BBC Newsnight Mensch said it "wasn't up to us to make that judgment" and that "nobody disagreed it was wildly outside the remit of the committee".

"We lost our chance to produce a unified credible report where we all agreed".

At the press conference yesterday Tom Watson MP said there was a need "to raise the bar" and that it "was important" the committee "spoke out".

"There is a judgment you have to make, whether you go for a weaker report and gain unanimity, or whether you stand up for what you believe."

But last night Mensch said the "hysterical and over the top" move to include the line in the report made it "partisan and essentially worthless".

"In all the time the committee discussed the phone-hacking report never in one discussion did we discuss even for a minute whether or not Rupert Murdoch was a fit person to run News Corporation.

"It was literally never discussed even one time in any discussion. But it was hijacked into the final report."

Also appearing on Newsnight executive editor of the Times Roger Alton added that the allegation is based on "opinions" and "nothing to do with fact".

"This is purely about Anti-Murdoch animus which infuses lot of people, political opponents and commercial opponents. The good work of the committee was hijacked by a sort of personal campaign."

Former BBC director general Greg Dyke said he doubted the words would "have any impact at all", but that Ofcom's own investigation into whether the status of News International and/or James Murdoch as "fit and proper persons to own the BSkyB licence" would.

News Corporation itself responded to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee's report late last night, describing some of the findings as "partisan" and "unjustified".

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