Coffee House

Murdoch denies all knowledge

10 November 2011

4:45 PM

10 November 2011

4:45 PM

James Murdoch’s great advantage today was that he didn’t mind if people came away thinking he was a bit of an idiot. As various members of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee attempted to
goad him into saying that he knew about this or that, Murdoch simply pleaded ignorance.


Why was Murdoch ignorant of what was happening in the company of which he was executive chairman? Apparently becase he asked very few questions. Even the obvious ones about what the lawyers had
said or why such large settlements were being made seem to have escaped him.

Murdoch was also helped by Tom Watson’s over the top invocation of the mafia. There’s a sense in the Commons tonight that the line, and the attention it has drawn, has helped James Murdoch escape a
forensic examination of his answers.

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Show comments
  • ButcombeMan

    The sheer ineptitude of the questioning, both the format and the quality of it, convinces me that this sort of proceeding is a waste of time and effort unless the Committee can employ a suitably skilled barrister as Counsel to their enquiry with trained investigators to back that person up and do background research.

    The questions are mostly grandstanding, designed (very badly) to show the cleverness of the questioners rather than illumoinate the issues. Watson was a disgrace.

  • anne allan

    During the past couple of decades, British politicians have presided over the setting up of Big Brother Britain. Of course, it’s for our own good… if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear….. blah…blah….
    In that case, why are politicians and twerps like Hugh Grant getting so exercised about their witterings being overheard? Have they got something to hide?

  • Joel

    @ChrisLancashire is so right.

    Politics has become a mug’s game; rife with self-righteous plebs like Martin. Question Time is now on a par with Jerry Springer in terms of 30-seconds-of-fame syndrome. Can’t politicians like David Owen make a come-back and replace these pretenders

  • lescam

    Watson is a prize creep. I haven’t forgotten the way he plotted with his buddy Brown to get rid of Blair. He is nasty, rude and made himself look really stupid today.

    James Murdoch won this round hands down. Good for him.

  • TrevorsDen

    ‘A member of Scottish Labour calling Murdoch a mafia boss is brass neck beyond belief.’

    Yep… good point well made

  • Holly ……

    Tom Watson may well have suceeded in putting out the Sun…Loss making pain in the arse.

    Yet another day of ‘star quality’ Labour bods from the ‘nice’ party.

    YAY Watson eh?!!!!

  • J H Holloway

    Tom Watson is driven by three things.

    Going in head first for his best mate Moron Brown, who believes that Murdoch’s switch to supporting the Tories stopped him winning the election.

    Two, going in head first on the press, using Murdoch as a proxy, because the expenses scandal saw Labour MPs jailed, and that should never happen.

    Three, going in for Tommy Sheridan, a great Scottish Socialist, who is also in jail for perjury, committed when he took on News International.

    Watson is a deeply tribal, deeply unpleasant, member of the Scottish Labour establishment. I’ve learnt that people who are up to no good usually accuse other people of their own failings.

    A member of Scottish Labour calling Murdoch a mafia boss is brass neck beyond belief.

  • Maggie

    Murdoch came across like a world class Nobel prize winning genius compared to the idiots who were questioning him.

  • London Calling

    Where was the Nodfather?…at home stroking his purring ginger cat?…

    Its elementary dear Watson, the horse lives, however it would appear that those at the top are mere mascots and are kept deliberately out of the loop unless trusted eyes and ears are placed at each level below, that’s how it should be, it’s no use the boss being the last to know and claiming such in defence. Maybe News Corp should work for border control and counter intelligence and Mabel from Manchester should write the news and run government…:O

    It hasn’t gone unnoticed either, that as soon as a Euro leader speaks out or acts against the euro, heads roll…which suggests the trusted eyes and ears within are working and pensioned by the other side….? …with an offer they can’t refuse…

  • The Oncoming Storm

    Watson would have been well advised to heed the words of the real Don Corleone…

    “Never hate your enemies, it clouds your judgement.”

  • Bill Rees

    Tom Watson performed quite well at the previous Murdoch hearing, but I’m afraid he lost all the credibility he had built up on that occasion.
    This time he just looked like a buffoon, and a thuggish one at that.
    True colours will come out eventually.

  • Paddy

    Tom Watson is the Labour Party’s member of the month.

    He is totally obsessed with NI and dragging everyone else with him.

    The Chairman should have made Watson apologise.

  • In2minds

    Tom Watson is a shit, I knew that years ago as I lived in his constituency. I just wanted to put that on public record.

    @Andy W H – commiserations.

  • Diane C

    I hope Mr Murdoch is already talking to his lawyers about the possibility of suing Tom Watson for those derogatory comments which surely border on the slanderous. And the committee lost all their credibility by allowing him to get away with it.

    But at the end of the day what most people will remember was the dignified way Mr Murdoch put them all to shame by remaining so dignified in the face of such unnecessary rudeness.

    When Tom Watson has given work to as many people as News International has, and paid as much tax as they have, he perhaps will carry some authority. Until then, he is just another silly MP trying to look important.

    Haven’t these politicians got anything more to worry about than this unspeakably boring hacking business?

  • strapworld

    Watson, by the way, was supported by the Union in his American voyage- away from looking after his constituents! The Unions act more like latter day Mafia Dons these days, perhaps Watson should be looking at their activities.

  • toco

    It is rumoured Tom Watson is shortly to join Labour’s front bench.Given today’s disgraceful behaviour and his alleged links with the Smeargate trio one has to question Red Ed’s judgement yet again.

  • strapworld

    I agree totally with Chris lancashire. What does annoy me, Mr Forsyth, you are taking the Westminster Village line that anything News International is bad. Could it be that James Murdoch is actually telling the truth?

    Let us not overlook, Watson that odious MP, tried to take over the News International shareholders meeting and did not get much support. He is becoming a bore.

    It has to be a case of put up or shut up now! and you Mr Forsyth must do the same.

  • Boyders

    Watson looked like someone who had rehearsed his words in the bath until the water got cold, then stuck to them like glue because he didn’t have the wit to come up with anything whilst in play. He sounded like a bit of a pratt really and I am sure he knows it.

  • Andy W H

    Murdoch was impressive compared to most of the MPs – but so would my cat, and she’s been dead for ten years.

    Murdoch evidence and attitude was a study in selective exposure to information with an eye to plausible deniability. Amusing to see MPs reacting indignantly to something with which they are so familiar in their own world- both as victims and practitioners.

  • whatawaste

    If you read “Full Disclosure” written by Andrew Neil chronicling his time at the Sunday Times and Sky, you soon realise that managment structures are quite unconventional. Rupert would frequently phone middle managment bypassing their seniors thus undermining managerial authority. This created a lot of distrust in the management teams.

    It is no surprise in such a dysfunctional structure that knowledge was not shared equally. Neil had to move on as he was too successful and more popular than Rupert much to the latters chagrin which is bizarre to say the least.

    The problem MPs have is that few have had a real job and even fewer have experience of working in large multinationals. So inevitably the quality of questions asked will not pass muster.

    I have worked in a few and it is very easy to hide bad stuff from senior management. The expectation that James should know everything is quite disingenuous to say the least.

  • Jane

    Mr Murdoch’s performance would have satisfied his lawyers and shareholders. He dealt with the aggressive and discourteous questioning from some members very well. The downright insulting comment from Mr Watson was unbecoming from an MP and reminds us all to oppose any suggestion that Select Committee’s should have additional powers. Mr Watson has succeeded in making us feel embarrassed at his comment which he used because he lost the argument with Mr Murdoch who dismissed many of his theories. Further, we do not like to see those in authority try and demean others particularly witnesses. Mr Watson (small man mentality) may have treated Mr Murdoch with disrespect but he has successfully ensured that Mr Murdoch had the sympathy of those watching for such offensive remarks. I know who I would want for a boss – a cultured Mr Murdoch wins all round.

  • Chris lancashire

    Excellent performance by Murdoch demonstrating the talent gap between a top class plc manager and thicko MPs. Watson now looking more than a little obsessive and more than a little stupid.