London: In a series of candid admissions, media baron Rupert Murdoch Thursday said there had been a "cover-up" at the News of the World on the phone-hacking issue, and regretted that he had "failed" to stop it, which amounted to a "serious blot on my reputation".
Deposing on the second day before the Leveson Inquiry which is looking into media ethics, Murdoch said he should have himself dealt with the unethical news gathering practices at the now defunct News of the World, when it first came to notice when the paper's royal reporter Clive Goodman was convicted of phone-hacking.
"I should have myself done that...Should have torn the place apart, but that is hindsight, which is always easier that foresight.
"I also have to say that I failed, and I am very sorry about it", he said.
Reminding the inquiry of his promise to the Culture, Sport and Media Select Committee last year that he was the right person to "clean up", Murdoch said "we a new company altogether now" following several measures taken internally to help the police with investigations.
Murdoch said there had been a "cover-up" over phone hacking at the News of the World tabloid but that it was kept hidden from him and senior executives in his media empire.
He said: "I think the senior execs were all...Misinformed and all shielded from anything that was going on there and I do blame one or two people for that whom I shouldn't name because for all I know they may be arrested yet".
He added: "There's no question in my mind that, maybe even the editor but beyond that, someone took charge of a cover-up which we were victim to and I regret that".
He said a lawyer, whom he described as a friend and "drinking pal" of journalists at the NoW, forbade staff to report instances of phone hacking.
The former editor, Colin Myler, had failed to report back, he added.
Apologising to the "innocent" staff who lost their jobs when News of the World was closed, Murdoch said: "I am guilty of not having paid enough attention to the News of the World, probably throughout all of the time that we've owned it".
First Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012, 18:27