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Parliament's Tom Watson says Murdoch's at 'Rosebud moment'

October 20, 2011 | 11:08 am

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One of News Corp.'s harshest critics warned that investors in the media conglomerate and analysts that follow the company need to take the ethics scandal at the company more seriously.

"This isn’t just about phone hacking," said Parliament member Tom Watson. "This company is facing criminal charges for bribing police officers, and potentially their executives will be charged with perjury."

Watson, a key member of Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which has been leading the investigation into phone hacking at News Corp.'s now-defunct News of the World tabloid, has come to Los Angeles to attend News Corp.'s annual meeting Friday and hopes to confront News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch about how he manages the company.

News Corp. is run "like a dysfunctional family firm," Watson, a member of the United Kingdom's Labor Party, said, adding that Rupert Murdoch is at his "Rosebud moment," a reference to the classic film "Citizen Kane" about a power-hungry media mogul.

Watson received shares in News Corp. from the AFL-CIO so he could attend the meeting and attempt to address Murdoch and investors. 

"The board has failed to protect the interest of shareholders," Watson said, adding he wants to "make sure investors are in no doubt about what went on."

The Parliament member also warned that there will be more hearings involving James Murdoch, the youngest son of Rupert Murdoch who had oversight over News International, the unit that housed News of the World.

"I think that we will be on this case for at least a year’s time," he said.

The United States is also keeping an eye on the investigations and may have to determine at some point if News Corp. violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Asked if it was unusual for a British lawmaker to go to such extremes, he said he felt it was his duty and that he hopes that News Corp. stands up for free speech and gives a shareholder "two minutes to make a point."

— Joe Flint

RELATED:

CalPers to vote against the return of the Murdochs to News Corp. board

Firm urges the ouster of Rupert Murdoch from News Corp. board

Ex-News Corp. executive to testify again in hacking scandal

Photo: Tom Watson, center, a member of Paliament's Culture, Media and Sport Committee, speaks during one of the panel's sessions on Sept. 6, 2011. Credit: Reuters TV.

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