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News of the World: closed by News International last July over phone hacking

Credit: Peter Byrne/PA
Rupert Murdoch has said he feels "great personal regret" that News International did not respond more quickly or effectively to allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World.

In his witness statement to the Leveson inquiry, the News Corporation chairman said he felt "a strong sense of responsibility for everything we do and fail to do".

He wrote: "Through all this, I remain committed to NI and all our titles, to the men and women who have built these businesses, and to our readers and our audience who count on us to deliver a great paper every day.

"All of us regret that some of our colleagues fell far short of what is expected of them. I feel great personal regret that we did not respond more quickly or more effectively.

"This company has been my life's work, and I feel a strong sense of responsibility for everything we do and fail to do. But I am committed to demonstrating that the talented men and women at our titles can continue to turn out world class newspapers, following the highest ethical and legal standards, and play a critical role in our democracy."

Murdoch said he "welcomed" the opportunity to give evidence to the Leveson inquiry "because I wanted to put certain myths to bed".

He said of newspaper practices and ethics: "There have been abuses shown. I would say there are many other abuses but we can all go into that in time."

He later added: "I don't believe in using hacking. I don't believe in using private detectives - it's a lazy way of reporters not doing their job."

Giving evidence to the inquiry this morning, which has been going through Murdoch's time in UK newspapers in chronological order, the proprietor expressed regret over a "major mistake" when the Times paid to publish what were believed to be extracts from Hitler's wartime diaries in 1983, which turned out to be a hoax.

He said: "When the editor told me very excitedly that they'd bought these British rights to documents from a very reputable German publisher, he got [historian Hugh Trevor-Roper - Lord Dacre] to go to Switzerland to examine those diaries and after some hours with them he declared he thought they were genuine.

"Very close to publication, people were debating it and Lord Dacre did show doubts. The majority of us thought we should go ahead. I take full responsibility for it - it was a major mistake I made and one I'll have to live with for the rest of my life."

Murdoch was also critical of a Sun front page on the day after the 1992 general election, claiming that "it's the Sun wot won it".

He said the front page was "tasteless and wrong" and said he gave then Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie "a hell of a bollocking" over the front page, because it gave the wrong impression about the paper's power in electing John Major.

Murdoch said he did not interfere with the political allegiance of the Times or Sunday Times, but said: "If you want to judge my thinking, look at the Sun."

He added: "I'm a curious person who's interested in the great issues of the day and I'm not good at holding my tongue.

"I never interfered with the News of the World I'm sorry to say. I'm not disowning it or saying it wasn't my responsibility but I was always closer to the Sun. It was a daily paper"

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