The Net Closes In
Just as it seems some kind of legal injunction managed to stop the broadcast of last night's much anticipated BBC Panorama documentary on Murdoch's spying activities on other rivals, the police leap into action with the biggest number of arrests since the Hackgate scandal begun. Six people were arrested this morning in early morning raids on the very serious charge of perverting the course of justice, a common law offence which can carry a life imprisonment sentence.
It was a long time coming, but inevitable six months ago. James Murdoch has stepped down as chair of News International, signalling the Fall of the House of Murdoch as the dynastic succession to Rupert's News Corp empire is finished. The official statement - which is probably worth no more than a host of News Corp press statements which have either turned out to be highly misleading in the past (some outright lies indeed)
News Corporation today announced that, following his relocation to the company's headquarters in New York, James Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer, has relinquished his position as executive chairman of News International, its UK publishing unit. Tom Mockridge, chief executive officer of News International, will continue in his post and will report to News Corporation president and COO Chase Carey. "We are all grateful for James' leadership at News International and across Europe and Asia, where he has made lasting contributions to the group's strategy in paid digital content and its efforts to improve and enhance governance programs," said Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive officer, News Corporation. "He has demonstrated leadership and continues to create great value at Star TV, Sky Deutschland, Sky Italia, and BSkyB. Now that he has moved to New York, James will continue to assume a variety of essential corporate leadership mandates, with particular focus on important pay-TV businesses and broader international operations." "I deeply appreciate the dedication of my many talented colleagues at News International who work tirelessly to inform the public and am confident about the tremendous momentum we have achieved under the leadership of my father and Tom Mockridge," said James Murdoch. "With the successful launch of the Sun on Sunday and new business practices in place across all titles, News International is now in a strong position to build on its successes in the future. As deputy chief operating Officer, I look forward to expanding my commitment to News Corporation's international television businesses and other key initiatives across the company."
More as I get it. OK, this is all on the hoof. Yes James resigned from other subsidiary boards several months ago as I detailed in another diary. But this is the biggie: NI was bidding for BSkyB which he also chairs - expect a resignation there too. More news in - still involved in BSkyB - but again this is slow withdrawal. Expect more retreats soon http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/feb/29/james-murdoch-resigns-news-international-chairman
Wednesday's move sees him give up responsibility for News Corp's crisis-hit British newspaper operation as he completes his relocation to New York. The man once seen as his father Rupert Murdoch's automatic heir at the top of News Corp retains existing responsibility for "global television", overseeing busineses including the company's 39% stake in BSkyB, Sky-branded pay-TV companies in Europe and Star in Asia – and only gains the opportunity to become involved with the company's US Fox television operation as he settles in across the Atlantic. James Murdoch's managerial move away from News International explains why he was not in London to help oversee the launch of the Sun's Sunday edition, which has been personally supervised by his father. Friends say he has been eager to leave the UK and drop responsibility for the Wapping newspapers for several months as the phone hacking scandal enveloped the London outpost of the organisation.
And there are rumours of a major arrest in the pipeline.. just sayin' IMPORTANT ASIDE: I've been in touch with Alastair Morgan, whose brother Daniel was brutally murdered in South London in 1988, by suspects with close connection to the NoW hacking team. These same individuals were sponsored by NoW to harass and survey the police detectives re-examining the case in 2002. Ceebs had a diary yesterday about it, Murdoch and Murder. Tom Watson is going to make an important statement at 4pm BST (11 am EST) about Daniel Morgan's murder. I expect, under Parliamentary privilege, he might make some explosive revelations.