Elisabeth Murdoch would have ‘probably’ published naked Prince Harry photos
RUPERT Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth said she would “probably” have published the photos of Prince Harry cavorting naked with female companions in a hotel room if she had been head of News International.
Ms Murdoch, speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival today, joked that despite being busy preparing for the annual MacTaggart lecture which she delivered on Thursday evening, she had gone online to look at the photos.
Asked if she would have published them if she had been in the “top job”, she replied: “Thankfully, I don’t have to make that decision. It would be very sad if we lived in a world where we can’t publish those pictures. I feel bad for him, he was a young guy having fun.”
Ms Murdoch then countered a question that publishing the Prince Harry photos could be seen as a “dearth of ethics” by saying it had been in the public interest.
During a question and answer session Ms Murdoch admitted that she told Rebekah Brooks, her father’s favourite executive, to resign and advised her brother James to step back from his top role in News International in the wake of the phone-hacking crisis which engulfed the company last summer.
But she denied ever saying the widely reported line that the pair had “f***** the company”, describing it as a “made-up quote”.
In the wake of the scandal, James Murdoch resigned as chairman of News Group Newspapers and then as executive chairman of News Corp’s newspaper arm.
He remains deputy chief operating officer of News International’s parent company News Corp.
Ms Brooks, chief executive of News International, also resigned.
Ms Murdoch said it had been “a nightmare year for the family” but she was aware it had “not been as difficult for us as for the people who have been victims or Milly Dowler’s parents”.
She said she was “pleased” her father had told a parliamentary select committee that giving evidence was “the most humble day” of his life.
She said: “I know he absolutely meant it and it was, if I’m honest as a daughter, heart-breaking.”
Asked if she had ever said James or Ms Brooks had f***** the company, she said: “No, for the record, absolutely not.”
She said the family “did all get together” to discuss the scandal.
Her MacTaggart lecture speech, in which she said “profit without purpose is a recipe for disaster”, was seen in some quarters as a rebuke to her brother’s running of the family firm but today she described him as “an incredibly able executive” and said she had no interest in taking the “top job” after her father.
Ms Murdoch had been going to take a position on the News Corp board after the company bought her production company Shine, but did not do so as the crisis raised questions about the family’s management of the group.
She also said that her “profit without purpose” comment was not just referring to the media and added: “It is time for us not to be afraid to talk about it.”
Asked if it was true that she had advised James to step back and Ms Brooks to resign, she said: “Yes, it is, but... it was said within closed walls and Rebekah did resign.”
Ms Murdoch, who is the third member of her family to give the landmark address to the TV industry, said one reason for giving it was to make sure “not everybody is tarred or marked with the same brush”.
She added: “Everyone likes the idea of a soap opera and it’’s really not that - the reality is we are a very close family.”
In her lecture, she said News Corp was “currently asking itself some very significant and difficult questions about how some behaviours fell so short of its values”.
She said “one of the biggest lessons” was the need for “a rigorous set of values based on an explicit statement of purpose”.
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