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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Scene of farce during Murdock hearing

Murdock’s grilling by parliamentary committee interrupted by undignified scuffle

The media mogul was doing his best to apologize to a UK parliamentary committee of inquiry into the phone hacking/police bribery scandal when he was rudely interrupted by a protestor who leapt up and threw a foam pie.

What kind of foam (shaving foam? detergent foam?) is undescribed, but Murdock’s wife, Wendi Deng took umbrage. She bounded from her seat and slapped the pie-tosser.

The farcical fracas was brought to a halt by police, who dragged the protestor out of the room. Presumably hiding their expressions, the members of the committee then resumed their cross-examination.

Meantime, in Australia, PM Julia Gillard is making noises about having questions of her own for the Aus-born magnate. Australians, she said, had been disturbed by events in the UK.

John Hartigan, chairman and CEO of Australian Murdock company News Limited, replied with spirit, saying he’d be happy to answer any “hard questions” Ms Gillard might pose, though he found the allegation offensive. “The prime minister’s comments seek to draw a link between News Corporation operations in the UK and those here in Australia,” he said, comments that he considered “unjustified and regrettable.”

Ms Gillard said, “When people have seen telephones hacked into, when people have seen individuals grieving having to deal with all of this, then I do think that causes them to ask some questions here in our country, some questions about News Limited here. Obviously News Limited has got a responsibility to answer those questions when they’re asked.”

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