James Murdoch

James Murdoch has been re-elected to the News Corp board but the scale of the vote against him could further place his future at the company in doubt

Credit: David Cheskin/PA
James Murdoch has suffered an embarrassing blow to his position at News Corp in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal after more than a third of the company's shareholders voted against him being re-elected to the board of directors.

Both James, 38, and his brother Lachlan, Rupert Murdoch's eldest son at 40, were censured in the vote, with 35 per cent of shareholders voting against James and 34 per cent against Lachlan.
Discounting the 40 per cent of shares controlled by Rupert Murdoch, the brothers suffered a more significant blow, with 67 per cent of the independent votes going against James and 64 per cent against Lachlan.

Taking abstentions into account, only 20 per cent of the independent shareholders voted to re-elect James to the board.

Rupert Murdoch fared better than both, with only 14 per cent voting against him, although a much higher number of shareholders than average – equivalent to 12 million votes  – abstained.

The results of the vote follow news yesterday that James had been recalled to appear before the MPs on 10 November to answer questions about discrepancies in testimony to the House of Commons culture media and sport select committee.

He told the committee during his previous appearance in July that he was not aware of the so-called "for Neville" email that suggested phone hacking went beyond the "rogue reporter" Clive Goodman.

Former editor Colin Myler and former legal manager Tom Crone told the committee in September that James was aware of the email and its implications.

Appearing before the select committee yesterday via video link, former News International and Dow Jones chief executive Les Hinton told MPs that he saw "no reason" why James should resign from News Corp.

Although James, Lachlan, and the other 13 nominees were re-elected to the board, the vote is a significant blow to James' image and may be yet another sign that he will not step into his father's shoes as chairman of the company.

Other nominees to suffer a significant number of no votes were Natalie Bancroft, a former opera singer and the representative of the Bancroft family, which sold Dow Jones to News Corp, with 33 per cent voting against her.

The two board members overseeing the company's current internal inquiry into phone hacking and other criminality, Joel Klein and Viet Dinh, received strong votes in favour of re-election, with Klein winning 96 per cent of the vote and Dinh 85 per cent.

A separate vote on whether Rupert Murdoch's roles as chairman and chief executive should be split, with the chairman being an independent member of the board instead, was substantially defeated.

To contact the Journalism.co.uk news desk email joel@journalism.co.uk / rachel@journalism.co.uk, or call 01273 384 290

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