Rupert Murdoch Apologizes to Phone Hacking Victims

Posted July 16th, 2011 at 7:05 am (UTC-5)
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Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has published an apology in the British press to the victims of the News of the World phone-hacking and police bribery scandal.

A letter signed by Murdoch and published Saturday says he and his international media conglomerate News Corporation are sorry “for the serious wrongdoing that occurred” and the “hurt suffered” by those affected by some of his journalists' widespread phone-hacking and payments to police for information.

The apologies come after Les Hinton resigned from his post at the head of the U.S. media group Dow Jones Friday in the wake of the scandal.

Dow Jones is owned by Murdoch's News Corporation. But Hinton's resignation is tied to his previous role overseeing News Corporation's British newspapers, including News of the World, while journalists there illegally accessed cell phone conversations.

In a staff memo announcing his departure, Hinton apologized to those hurt by the News of the World journalists' actions, though he said he had been ignorant of what was going on at the time.

Hinton's resignation came just hours after Rebekah Brooks, a former News of the World editor who currently oversees News Corporation's British newspapers, also stepped down.

Murdoch shut down News of the World last week. The firestorm over the scandal also has forced Murdoch to abandon efforts to push through a multi-billion-dollar bid for British Sky Broadcasting, a satellite television company.

As News Corporation announced the public apology, the 80-year-old Murdoch visited at a London hotel with the parents of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old British murder victim whose phone was hacked by News of the World. A lawyer for the family described Murdoch as “very humbled” and “very shaken” as he offered his apology.

Brooks has agreed to testify before the British parliament next week about the phone-hacking and police bribery scandal. Murdoch and his son, James, who heads News Corporation's international operations, will also testify before parliament next week, after initially refusing to do so.

In the U.S., the Federal Bureau of Investigation has begun a probe into whether News Corporation employees tried to hack into the phones of victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and their families, or tried to bribe police for information.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters in Australia Friday the Justice Department has received a number of requests from lawmakers to look into the allegations involving News Corporation, and is “progressing in that regard” through the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

Murdoch's company has several lucrative news and entertainment outlets in the U.S., including the country's top business newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, and a major television news outlet, Fox News Channel.