Rupert Murdoch quizzed at Leveson Inquiry
26 April 2012
Rupert Murdoch was quizzed on press ethics, practices and culture by the NUJ's representative at the Leveson Inquiry, John Hendy QC.
The areas of questioning included:
- The treatment of journalists/photographers and the culture of bullying as factors influencing unethical news gathering practices.
- NUJ recognition at New International.
- News International's role in the creation of trade union laws in the UK.
- The NUJ's conscience clause proposal.
- The role of the management standards committee.
Rupert Murdoch claimed that the management and standards committee "did not disclose any sources of any journalists at all."
When asked if News International had discussions with Tony Blair or his officials about trade union recognition provisions in labour law, Murdoch answered "no"
Murdoch said there has been no investigation within News International of allegations of bullying:
"They always strike me as a very happy crowd."
"Our journalists are perfectly free to make complaints and perfectly free to join the NUJ.
"If they could find a majority of our journalists who want to join the NUJ, we would have no choice… I'd accept their democratic decision."
When questioned by Lord Leveson about the NUJ's conscience clause proposal, Rupert Murdoch said:
"I think that's a good idea."
In response Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
"The NUJ was pleased to have the opportunity to quiz Rupert Murdoch at the Leveson Inquiry.
"We're pleased that Rupert Murdoch gave his support for a conscience clause in journalism contracts – a long-standing campaign by the NUJ. We hope that other media owners and editors now commit to back our plan, which will give journalists legal protection if they refuse assignments that they believe would breach the NUJ's Code of Conduct.
"It was also heartening to hear Murdoch envisage a future where the NUJ will be back representing journalists in News International. Now that the owner of the UK's largest media group has conceded that he has no problem with his staff choosing to be represented by an independent trade union of their choice instead of a management-imposed staff association, I'm sure recruitment and organisation across the titles will see a big boost.
"The NUJ will now step up its work supporting journalists and building the recently-established News International NUJ chapel in the coming weeks and months."
The transcript and video of the Leveson Inquiry session, including the NUJ questions, are available on the Leveson Inquiry website.