Murdoch survives BSkyB board meeting

James Murdoch is under considerable scrutiny as the phone-hacking scandal rumbles on.
James Murdoch is under consoiderable scrutiny as the phone-hacking scandal rumbles on.

By Alex Stevenson and Ian Dunt

James Murdoch has been backed unanimously by the BSkyB board, ahead of more devastating revelations in the phone-hacking scandal.

A two-hour meeting this afternoon saw Mr Murdoch survive a key test in his struggle to maintain leadership of his father's empire, after facing questions from the broadcaster's board.

The Murdochs own 37% of BSkyB but abandoned their £10 billion bid to buy out the remaining shares at the height of the phone-hacking scandal two weeks ago.

Fresh from his struggles against political opponents, the non-executive chairman of BSkyB, who is also deputy chief operating officer of News Corp, faced probing questions about his ability to lead a FTSE 100 company while trying to manage the scandal.

The board decided Mr Murdoch would remain chairman for the foreseeable future, the Financial Times newspaper reported.

It added that the board would "keep a watching brief" on "external issues", however.

Claims that the News of the World tabloid hacked the phone of Sarah Payne's mother, which emerged soon after the board meeting ended, demonstrated the significance of that qualification.

Today's meeting was the first held by the BSkyB board since Rupert Murdoch was forced to drop his bid for full control of the company.

While there is little sign of enough anger for the 14-member board to revolt, questions are openly being asked about Mr Murdoch's capacity to be a fit chairman of the company.

The businessman is currently facing accusations of having misled parliament, after two former News International colleagues questioned the version of events he gave the culture, media and sport committee.

There are also reports that Ofcom, the media regulator, could assess whether News International executives constitute 'fit and proper' persons even for the remaining stake of BSkyB still under their control.

At least ten people have been arrested in the current police investigation over phone-hacking, along with countless resignations and the shutting down of the News of the World, one of Rupert Murdoch's most profitable newspapers.


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