A protester rushed at Rupert Murdoch as he gave testimony to British lawmakers on Tuesday, setting off a scuffle and spattering Mr. Murdoch with what appeared to be white foam in a foil pie dish in a shocking interruption of a hearing into the phone hacking scandal that’s rocked the media baron’s global empire.
After more than two hours of testimony, a man in a plaid shirt appeared to run toward Mr. Murdoch before being struck by his wife Wendi Deng.
Police in the back of the committee room were holding an apparently handcuffed man with white foam covering his face and shirt. The foam also appeared to have hit Mr. Murdoch’s suit.
Earlier, Mr. Murdoch appeared by turns vague, truculent, sharp and concise as he appeared alongside his son and deputy, James, calling the parliamentary inquisition “the most humble day of my career” but refusing to take responsibility for the crisis that has swept from a tabloid newspaper through the top levels of Britain’s police and even to the prime minister’s office.
Mr. Murdoch, 80, said he was “shocked, appalled and ashamed” at the hacking of the phone of a murdered schoolgirl by his now-shuttered News of the World tabloid.
But he quibbled with a suggestion that criminality had been endemic at the tabloid and said he had seen no evidence that victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack and their relatives were targeted by any of his papers.
“Endemic is a very hard, a very wide ranging word,” Mr. Murdoch said. “I also have to be very careful not to prejudice the course of justice that is taking place now.”
Mr. Murdoch said he was not responsible for the hacking scandal, and denied his company was guilty of wilful blindness over hacking.
He laid blame on “the people I trusted but they blame maybe the people that they trusted.”
Two of Murdoch’s top executives, Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton, have resigned over the scandal -- something Mr. Murdoch said was a matter of regret.
“I’ve worked with Mr Hinton for 52 years and I would trust him with my life,” he said.
Mr. Murdoch also told the committee that he didn’t believe the FBI had uncovered any evidence of hacking of Sept. 11 victims in a recently launched inquiry.
He said he lost sight of News of the World because it is such a small part of his company and spoke to the editor of the paper only around once a month, talking more with the editor of the Sunday Times in Britain and the Wall Street Journal in the U.S.