Top News Corp. exec Les Hinton latest to fall in hacking scandal
Les Hinton, one of the most senior executives at News Corp. and a longtime lieutenant of Rupert Murdoch, is leaving the company in the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal that is tearing through the media conglomerate.
Hinton, chief executive of News Corp.'s Dow Jones & Co., which is the parent to the Wall Street Journal, had previously served for more than a decade as head of News International, the News Corp. unit that housed News of the World.
News Corp. has been rocked by allegations of massive phone hacking done by News of the World reporters and operatives of voicemail accounts of not only celebrities and members of the royal family, but also victims of crime and terrorism. Next week, Murdoch and his son James Murdoch, who oversees all of News Corp.'s European operations, are expected to appear before the British Parliament to address the hacking scandal.
The exit of Hinton follows by only hours the departure of Rebekah Brooks, his successor at News International. Brooks, whom Murdoch stuck by for several days, finally submitted her resignation Friday, saying she had become a distraction to the company's efforts to clean up the mess from the hacking debacle.
"Les and I have been on a remarkable journey together for more than 52 years. That this passage has come to an unexpected end, professionally, not personally, is a matter of much sadness to me,” Murdoch said in a statement, adding that "few individuals have given more to this company than Les Hinton."
Hinton, who worked for Murdoch for over 50 years, said he has "watched with sorrow from New York as the News of the World story has unfolded." He claimed he was "ignorant of what apparently happened" but added that ultimately "it is proper for me to resign from News Corp. and apologize to those hurt by the actions of News of the World.”
Brooks and Hinton are the latest casualties of the News of the World scandal. The paper itself was closed earlier this week and News Corp. also pulled the plug on its ambitions to acquire the 60% stake of British Sky Broadcasting it didn't already own.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Les Hinton, former chief executive officer of News Corp.'s Dow Jones & Co. Credit: Joshua Roberts / Bloomberg