By Ray Fleming

WHAT little chance there was of important new revelations or insights emerging from yesterday's Select Committee appearance of Rupert and James Murdoch was lost by the disjointed nature of the proceedings and the obvious determination of Murdoch Sr to insist that he knew nothing about the phone-hacking or, at least, of its scale. Still, his readiness to admit that the occasion was “the most humble day of my life” made an impression -- but did he mean “humbling”? His statement that he was “more than prepared” to answer the Committee's questions was presumably not a reference to the coaching he had reportedly been receiving from lawyers and other presentation experts.

One thing he said was striking: “The News of the World was less than 1 per cent of our company. I employ 53'000 people round the world and I'm spread finding people I can trust to run the divisions.” It was striking because it made much clearer why the News of the World was so badly managed by people who often couldn't be trusted.” While it claimed to be “The world's greatest newspaper” and had more than four million readers, “it was less than 1 per cent of the company”. I think that may explain a lot although it excuses nothing. The essential importance of yesterday's event was the public humbling of Rupert Murdoch and his son.

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