Rupert Murdoch secret tapes: News Corp defends head

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAn excerpt of the recording obtained by Exaro website and broadcast on Channel 4 News

News Corp has defended chief Rupert Murdoch after a secret recording was released of him criticising the police inquiry into alleged inappropriate payments to officials by journalists.

Speaking in March to a group of Sun journalists - many of whom are under investigation - he complains about "totally incompetent" police officers.

The recording was obtained by the Exaro website and aired on Channel 4 News.

News Corp said Mr Murdoch had shown "understandable empathy" with staff.

Allegations of phone hacking at the now-defunct News of the World thrust the newspaper's owners, News Corp, and its journalists directly into the spotlight.

A separate Scotland Yard investigation, named Operation Elveden, is looking into claims of inappropriate payments made to police and other public officials by journalists.

In the recording, Mr Murdoch is heard speaking about Operation Elveden.

"Still, I mean, it's a disgrace," the News Corp boss is heard saying in the tapes acquired by the Exaro investigative website and said to have been recorded at the Sun headquarters in Wapping, east London.

"Here we are, two years later, and the cops are totally incompetent.

'Total support'

"The idea that the cops then started coming after you, kick you out of bed, and your families, at six in the morning, is unbelievable.

"But why are the police behaving in this way? It's the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing.

"And now they're arresting their own, who never even took money... they're going to put all newspapers out of business."

He also offered his backing to the journalists, even if they were found guilty.

"I will do everything in my power to give you total support, even if you're convicted and get six months or whatever," he said.

"You're all innocent until proven guilty."

A spokesman for News Corp told Channel 4 News: "No other company has done as much to identify what went wrong, compensate the victims and ensure the same mistakes do not happen again.

"The unprecedented co-operation granted by News Corp was agreed unanimously by senior management and the board, and the MSC [News Corp management and standards committee] continues to co-operate under the supervision of the courts.

"Rupert Murdoch has shown understandable empathy with the staff and families affected and will assume they are innocent until and unless proven guilty."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites