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U.K. Lawmakers Say Murdoch Must Do More to Atone for Hacking

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July 13 (Bloomberg) -- Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. needs to do more to atone for misdeeds at his newspapers, lawmakers said after the company dropped its bid for full control of British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc.

Labour Party lawmaker Chris Bryant said the New York-based company should be barred from owning any media in Britain unless its non-executive directors can prove they took steps to combat practices that triggered what Prime Minister David Cameron called a “firestorm.”

Since the July 4 report that the News of the World tabloid had hacked into the voicemails of a murdered schoolgirl, public and political anger has forced News Corp. to close down the paper and abandon its BSkyB bid.

“Now what it needs to do is sell a couple of newspapers,” Bryant said in a telephone interview in London today. “News Corp. has not been able to deal with criminality in its own organization and they shouldn’t have any media responsibility in this country.”

Bryant said he will write to News Corp non-executive directors in the U.S. to ask what they have done to investigate the allegations of wrongdoing.

“News Corp in the U.S. is the parent company and that is where it’s fiduciary duty lies,” Bryant said. “I will be asking non-executive directors precisely what they did to investigate allegations.” Failure to demonstrate that they took steps should lead them to “withdraw from media ownership in the U.K.”

Tom Watson, another Labour lawmaker critical of Murdoch, told Sky News that “We’ve still not seen anyone at the top of the company resigning. Until somebody carries the can and somebody apologizes at the top of this company, I think this is going to carry on and on. The consequences of this will play out over weeks and months.”

‘Years’ of Probes

John Whittingdale, the Conservative lawmaker who chairs Parliament’s Culture Committee, told Sky he expected to “spend a great deal of time uncovering exactly what has been going on. It’s going to be several years before we know everything.”

“At last the sun is setting on Rupert Murdoch’s British empire,” Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Simon Hughes said. “My colleagues and I have been warning for 17 years of the dangers of the growing influence of the Murdochs in Britain.”

News Corp. spokeswoman Miranda Higham declined to comment.

To contact the reporters on this story: Gonzalo Vina in London at gvina@bloomberg.net; Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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