News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch admitted Thursday there was a "cover up" over phone hacking at Britain's News of the World tabloid newspaper.
Murdoch said he too was misled over the scandal that has damaged his reputation. "The News of the World, to be quite honest, is an aberration and it's my fault. It's going to be a blot on my reputation for the rest of my life," Murdoch said in his sworn testimony to the Levenson inquiry into press ethics.
The media mogul's comments were regarded as a "shameful lie" by the newspaper's former lawyer, who said Murdoch was referring to him and to the paper's last editor before it was shutdown in July 2011.
Murdoch said he had failed in his management of the crisis at the News of the World, yet remained adamant staff had concealed the degree of its wrongdoing from him and other executives.
"There's no question in my mind that, maybe even the editor but certainly beyond that, someone took charge of a cover-up which we were victim to, and I regret that," Murdoch said in his second and final day of testimony in London.
"I do blame one or two people for that, whom perhaps I shouldn't name because for all I know they may be arrested yet," he said, adding, in addition to the editor he was thinking of a "clever lawyer."
Tom Crone, the former legal director of the News of the World, issued a press statement saying Murdoch's evidence "can only refer to me" and he thought the paper's final editor Colin Myler was also being singled out.
"His assertion that I 'took charge of a cover-up' in relation to phone hacking is a shameful lie," Crone said.
Millions of pounds in compensation have been paid out to News Corporation's hacking victims, while more than 40 people have been arrested in relation to the scandal.
The parliamentary committee is due to report next Tuesday.
jw/slk (AFP, Reuters)