Murdoch leaves Britain after turbulent visit

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Rupert Murdoch flew out of Britain Wednesday, ending a turbulent 11-day visit dominated by the phone-hacking scandal which climaxed in him being attacked by a foam pie on live television.

"He has left," a spokeswoman for News International, Murdoch's British newspaper division, told AFP after his private jet left from Luton airport north of London.

The Australian-born US citizen arrived in Britain on July 10 to deal with the crisis over phone hacking at the News of the World tabloid, several days after he dramatically closed thee 168-year-old, scandal-hit title.

Since then the row has spread to all parts of the British establishment, sparking the resignation of two senior police officers and threatening the reputation of Prime Minister David Cameron.

During his first week in Britain, Murdoch was forced to drop his offer for pay-TV giant BSkyB, and accept the resignations of two of his top executives, Rebekah Brooks in Britain and Les Hinton in the United States.

In a further show of contrition, Murdoch visited the family of murdered teenager Milly Dowler, whose voicemail was allegedly hacked by journalists at the News of the World, to express his dismay at the claims.

He also apologised to other victims of phone hacking in full-page adverts in all the major British newspapers last weekend.

Murdoch's final day was spent being grilled by a committee of lawmakers alongside his son James, about what they knew about phone hacking.

In a final humiliation, he was attacked by a member of the public with a foam pie, although his wife, Wendi Deng, stepped in to stop the assailant.

Murdoch must now confront the scandal in the United States, where the FBI is investigating claims that News International journalists targeted the phones of victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

In an email to News Corp staff on Wednesday, he vowed the company would bounce back from the scandal.

"It will take time for us to rebuild trust and confidence, but we are determined to live up to the expectations of our stockholders, customers, colleagues and partners," he wrote.

© 2011 AFP

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