Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Business Secretary Vince Cable said he had some sympathy with Labour Party lawmaker Tom Watson’s description of News Corp. Deputy Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch as a “mafia boss.”
Watson, who has been at the forefront of a probe by lawmakers into phone-hacking at News Corp.’s now-shuttered News of the World newspaper, told Murdoch he “must be the first mafia boss in history who didn’t know he was running a criminal enterprise” during a hearing of Parliament’s Culture Committee on Nov. 10. Murdoch called the comment “inappropriate.”
Asked about Watson’s remarks in an interview on BBC television’s “Politics Show” today, Cable said: “It was a nice line. It was amusing and Tom Watson’s got a good turn of phrase.” When interviewer Jon Sopel suggested Cable showed a “certain sympathy,” the business secretary agreed.
Cable’s comments last December that he had “declared war” on News Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch, James’s father, prompted Prime Minister David Cameron to strip him of his responsibility for ruling on media takeovers. Cable was speaking to reporters posing as voters as News Corp. sought full control of British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc, a bid it dropped in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
At the time, Cameron called Cable’s remarks about Rupert Murdoch “totally unacceptable and inappropriate.” Since then, the prime minister has set up a judge-led inquiry into media regulation that starts its hearings tomorrow.
--Editors: Amanda Jordan, John Buckley
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