U.K. Lawmaker Watson Plans New Revelations at News Corp.’s Annual Meeting
By Robert Hutton – Oct 21, 2011 12:01 AM ET
Watson has obtained shares in the company, giving him the opportunity to address the meeting. He went straight from a hearing on phone-hacking in Parliament in London to the airport to catch his flight to Los Angeles.
He told reporters yesterday he has new information relating to the U.S. that “will leave people in no doubt that there will be huge reputational harm to the company in months, possibly years to come, that they’re not through the worst of it, and there are more questions for the Murdochs to answer.”
The phone-hacking scandal at News Corp. (NWSA)’s News of the World newspaper in the U.K. has led to at least 16 arrests, including former company executives. The 168-year-old publication was closed in July after admitting it had hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
A member of the Labour Party, Watson has used his seat on Parliament’s Culture Committee since 2009 to pursue News Corp. over hacking allegations. He was the lawmaker who informed Parliament of the Dowler accusations.
Watson was unsympathetic to suggestions that James Murdoch, Rupert’s son, may have accidentally misled Parliament in July when he failed to mention a second meeting in 2008, revealed yesterday, at which he discussed a phone-hacking lawsuit against the News of the World.
“I don’t think it’s acceptable, nor do I think it’s understandable,” Watson said.
Watson said he accepted that Rupert Murdoch and his family control enough News Corp. shares to retain power.
“They’ve got the votes, so they’re going to get what they want,” Watson said. “But if they had any decency, they’d listen to the concerns being raised.”
The official called on Murdoch, 80, to relinquish control over the company.
“It’s time for him to hand over,” Watson said.
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