The committee have also concluded that 'Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company'Credit: alancleaver_2000 on Flickr. Some rights reserved.
News International misled a parliamentary committee and ignored "evidence of widespread wrongdoing" MPs said in a report today, which also accuses Rupert Murdoch of not being "a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company".
The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee published its report into the phone-hacking scandal today, in which it also accuses former legal manager Tom Crone, former executive chairman of News International Les Hinton and former News of the World editor Colin Myler of misleading the committee.
The report added, by way of a majority vote, that "corporately the News of the World and News International misled the committee about the true nature and extent of the internal investigation they professed to have carried out in relation to phone hacking", accusing the company of seeking to "cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing" and of "ignoring evidence of widespread wrongdoing".
"In failing to investigate properly, and by ignoring evidence of widespread wrongdoing, News International and its parent News Corporation exhibited wilful blindness, for which the companies' directors – including Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch – should ultimately be prepared to take responsibility," the report adds.
The committee reports that the company made statements "they would have known were not fully truthful" and also failed "to disclose documents which would have helped expose the truth".In failing to investigate properly, and by ignoring evidence of widespread wrongdoing, News International and its parent News Corporation exhibited wilful blindness, for which the companies' directors – including Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch – should ultimately be prepared to take responsibilityCommittee report
"Their instinct throughout, until it was too late, was to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing and discipline the perpetrators, as they also professed they would do after the criminal convictions."
The committee add that: "On the basis of the facts and evidence before the committee, we conclude that, if at all relevant times Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone hacking, he turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications.
"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 voted on by the committee in favour six votes to four.
The committee said "false evidence … prevented the committee from exposing the true extent of phone-hacking" and that "the behaviour of News International and certain witnesses in this affair demonstrated contempt for that system in the most blatant fashion".
"It is for the House to decide whether a contempt has been committed and, if so, what punishment should be imposed."
The committee will now table a motion which will invite the House to endorse its conclusions. Members of the committee voted six to four in favour of the report in its entirety.
Overall the report stated that it has "deliberately refrained from drawing conclusions about the evidence of any individual who has been arrested as we do not wish to risk prejudicing any future criminal trial". But the committee does plan to "produce a supplementary report when all criminal proceedings are finished".
Les Hinton, Tom Crone and Colin Myler "misled the committee"
Individuals accused of misleading the report include Les Hinton, Tom Crone and Colin Myler.
The committee report concludes that Les Hinton "was complicit in the cover-up at News International, which included making misleading statements and giving a misleading picture to this committee".
"Les Hinton misled the committee in 2009 in not telling the truth about payments to Clive Goodman and his role in authorising them, including the payment of his legal fee.
"He also misled the committee about the extent of his knowledge of allegations that phone hacking extended beyond Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire to others at the News of the World."
In relation to evidence given by Crone and Myler, who were said to have previously insisted "there was no evidence that any further News of the World employee, beyond Clive Goodman had been involved in phone-hacking", the committee found this to be "not true".
"As further evidence disclosed to us by the newspaper's solicitors Farrer & Co now shows, they would have known this was untrue when they made those statements."Tom Crone and Colin Myler misled the committee by answering questions falsely about their knowledge of evidence that other News of the World employees had been involved in phone hacking and other wrongdoingCommittee report
The report concludes: "Tom Crone and Colin Myler misled the committee by answering questions falsely about their knowledge of evidence that other News of the World employees had been involved in phone hacking and other wrongdoing".
The committee added that individually "Tom Crone misled the committee in 2009 by giving a counter-impression of the significance of confidentiality in the Gordon Taylor settlement and sought to mislead the committee about the commissioning of surveillance".
In reference to James Murdoch, former chairman of News International, the committee said it was unable "to come to a definitive conclusion" over whether or not Murdoch saw what has become known as the For Neville email.
But the committee accuses him of "wilful ignorance" if he "did not ask to see this crucial piece of evidence, nor the independent counsel's opinion", adding that "his lack of curiosity … subsequently is more astonishing."
"As the head of a journalistic enterprise, we are astonished that James Murdoch did not seek more information or ask to see the evidence and counsel's opinion when he was briefed by Tom Crone and Colin Myler on the Gordon Taylor case."
The committee added that it also cannot say whether Murdoch was "aware of the significance of the Taylor case" in 2008, but finds his claim that "it was as late as December 2010" that he and his father established the facts around the "one rogue reporter" defence "simply astonishing".
News International's investigations
Looking at News International's own investigations, the committee reports that the company "repeatedly made misleading and exaggerated claims".
"As with the Harbottle & Lewis review, this conclusion applies similarly to the earlier engagement of solicitors Burton Copeland in August, 2006," the report adds.
"The account we have heard of News International's internal email review and the second review, conducted by Harbottle & Lewis, is unedifying.
"It is clear that the emails examined did not exonerate company employees from all suspicion of possible criminal wrongdoing, possibly not even from phone hacking.
"It is probable that all those who reviewed the emails will have been aware that this was the case."
The report adds that the "narrow terms" drawn up by former director of legal affairs at News International Jonathan Chapman for the review by Harbottle & Lewis "strongly suggests that he was deliberately turning a blind eye to emails that he did not want to investigate further".
The committee adds that "the willingness of News International to sanction huge settlements" as well as make "damaging, wide-ranging admissions to settle civil claims over phone-hacking before they reach trial" has reinforced its 2010 report "that the organisation has, above all, wished to buy silence in this affair an to pay to make this problem go away".