Media heir-apparent James Murdoch steps down | News | DW | 29.02.2012
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Media heir-apparent James Murdoch steps down

James Murdoch, the heir-apparent of his father's global media empire, has quit as executive chairman of News International's British newspaper unit as further disclosures emerge at Britain's media ethics inquiry.

The New York-based media corporation News International says its executive chairman James Murdoch is stepping down as the furor continues in Britain's phone-hacking scandal.

A senior Metropolitan police officer, Detective Chief Superintendent Phil Williams, told the phone-hacking inquiry in London on Wednesday that staff of the British royal family contacted police in 2005 saying they suspected their voice mail messages were being intercepted.

The scandal resulted last year in the closure of the News of the World tabloid newspaper and the arrests of a number of journalists and officials.

News Corp. said on Wednesday that James Murdoch, aged 39, would remain as the corporation's deputy chief operating officer based in New York and would focus on the concern's international television operations.

Seen as heir-apparent

James Murdoch had been seen as the heir apparent to his Australian-born father Rupert Murdoch, but another son, Lachlan, recently accompanied Murdoch senior during a promotion ahead of last weekend's launch of the Sun on Sunday. The new tabloid

replaces the Sunday edition of the News of the World.

News Corp. said in its statement that James Murdoch would continue to demonstate "leadership" and "create great value at Star TV, Sky Deutschland, Sky Italia and BSkyB."

Culture of payments to informants

On Monday, a leading Scotland Yard investigator into the phone hacking, Sue Akers, alleged during a sitting of the inquiry that the Sun also had a "culture" of payments to public officials in exchange for information.

Akers told the judicial inquiry that payments were "often hidden" and had been authorized "at a senior level" by executives at News International.

In November, the younger Murdoch. James, told a British parliamentary media committee that he was unaware that hacking was rife at News of the World. He accused two former executives of keeping him in the dark.

News Corp. has settled numerous claims brought by victims of phone-hacking. Last year, it emerged that the 168-year-old News of the World had hacked into the voicemails of Milly Dowler, a missing British schoolgirl who was later found murdered.

ipj/pfd (AFP,dpa, Reuters, AP)