Dow Jones CEO, ex-News International chief, quits

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Long-time Rupert Murdoch aide Les Hinton, who served as chairman of News International during the phone hacking at the News of the World, resigned on Friday as chief executive of News Corp.'s Dow Jones unit.

Hinton's resignation as CEO of Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, came just hours after that of Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International, News Corp.'s scandal-hit British newspaper division.

The resignation of Hinton, who served as chairman of News International from 1995 to 2007 and who has headed Dow Jones since December 2007, was announced in a statement by News Corp. chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch.

"Les and I have been on a remarkable journey together for more than 52 years," Murdoch said. "That this passage has come to an unexpected end, professionally, not personally, is a matter of much sadness to me.

"His great contribution to News Corporation over more than five decades has enhanced innumerable lives, whether those of employees hired by him or of readers better informed because of him.

"News Corporation is not Rupert Murdoch," Murdoch continued. "It is the collective creativity and effort of many thousands of people around the world, and few individuals have given more to this company than Les Hinton."

Murdoch on Friday apologized to the family of a murdered girl at the heart of the phone-hacking row in Britain in a bid to defuse the crisis engulfing his media empire.

Brooks was editor of the News of the World from 2000-2003, when reporters at the paper allegedly hacked the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler -- the claim that sparked the crisis and led to the closure of the tabloid.

In a statement, the 67-year-old Hinton reiterated his denials that he was aware of the extent of the phone-hacking by News of the World journalists.

"I have watched with sorrow from New York as the News of the World story has unfolded," Hinton said. "I have seen hundreds of news reports of both actual and alleged misconduct during the time I was executive chairman of News International and responsible for the company.

"The pain caused to innocent people is unimaginable," he said. "That I was ignorant of what apparently happened is irrelevant and in the circumstances I feel it is proper for me to resign from News Corp. and apologize to those hurt by the actions of News of the World."

Hinton said that when he left News International for Dow Jones he "believed that the rotten element at the News of the World had been eliminated; that important lessons had been learned; and that journalistic integrity was restored.

"My testimonies before the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee were given honestly," he said. "When I appeared before the committee in March 2007, I expressed the belief that (News of the World reporter) Clive Goodman had acted alone, but made clear our investigation was continuing.

"In September 2009, I told the committee there had never been any evidence delivered to me that suggested the conduct had spread beyond one journalist," Hinton said. "If others had evidence that wrongdoing went further, I was not told about it."

Before working at Dow Jones and News International, Hinton was a correspondent for News Corp. newspapers in Britain and Australia.

He has also held senior management positions in News Corp.'s publishing and television businesses as chief executive of News America Publishing and chairman and chief executive of Fox Televisions.

News Corp. said that following Hinton's resignation, Dow Jones president Todd Larsen will report to News Corp. deputy chairman, president and chief operating officer Chase Carey.

The departure of Brooks and Hinton capped a disastrous week for Murdoch in which he has been forced to shut the 168-year-old News of the World and scrap a buy-out of British pay-TV giant BSkyB.

Murdoch and his son James, the chairman of News International and deputy chief operating officer of News Corp., will be quizzed by a committee of British lawmakers on Tuesday, having initially resisted the idea. Brooks will also testify.

© 2011 AFP

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