ames Murdoch will be criticised by MPs investigating phone hacking on Tuesday, but their assessment of his conduct is expected to fall just short of accusing the former chairman of News International of misleading parliament about the extent of his knowledge of the affair.
The all party culture media and sport select committee concluded they could not reach a final decision about whether Murdoch misled them because of what the MPs described as conflicting evidence, according to a source close to the process. However, there was enough to lead members to agree that Murdoch had not asked the questions that would help determine the true extent of phone hacking at the News of the World for several years.
Some Conservatives on the committee are understood to have argued that Murdoch should not have been criticised at all, but in a three-hour meeting, in which much of the debate was taken up with agreeing the final wording as regards the News Corporation heir, their amendments are understood to have failed.
News International now concedes in civil actions brought by hacking victims that illegal practice took place at the News of the World between 2001 and 2006, before Murdoch became executive chairman in late 2007.
However, News International admits that it did not appreciate the extent of hacking until the very end of 2010, when it saw fresh evidence in a case involving the actor Sienna Miller.
Murdoch appeared before the select committee in both July and November, and the outspoken Labour MP Tom Watson described him as acting like a mafia boss at that second hearing – a contention rejected by Murdoch. It fell to Damian Collins, a Conservative, to come closer to the committee’s final conclusions, saying: “It may not be the mafia, but it doesn’t sound like Management Today.”