Murdoch hits back at Commons report

Rupert Murdoch has hit back after MPs branded him unfit to be in charge of a major media firm.

In a statement, News Corporation condemned the report by the Commons Culture Committee as "unjustified and highly partisan".

The highly contentious investigation into the News of the World phone-hacking scandal split the committee on party lines.

While members agreed unanimously that Mr Murdoch's media empire had misled their inquiry in a "blatant fashion", Tory MPs refused to support the report after Labour and the sole Liberal Democrat pushed through the criticism of Mr Murdoch by a vote of six to four.

Labour MP Tom Watson, who tabled the amendment, said he was disappointed that the Conservatives had been unwilling to sign up. He said of News Corp: "These people corrupted our country. They brought shame on our police force and our Parliament. They lied, they cheated, blackmailed and bullied and we should all be ashamed when we think how we cowered before them for too long," he said.

However, Conservative Louise Mensch said Mr Watson's insistence on inserting a conclusion that was "wildly outside the scope" of the inquiry had undermined the report's credibility. "That will mean it will be correctly seen as a partisan report and will have lost a very great deal of its credibility, which is an enormous shame," she said.

Responding to the findings, News Corp admitted that the committee had highlighted "hard truths". There had been "serious wrongdoing" at the News of the World, the company's response had been "too slow and too defensive", and some employees had misled the MPs in 2009.

In an email to News International staff on Tuesday night, Mr Murdoch said: "I recognise that for all of us - myself in particular - it is difficult to read many of the report's findings. But we have done the most difficult part, which has been to take a long, hard and honest look at our past mistakes."

Labour MP and Commons Culture Committee member Paul Farrelly told BBC Radio 4's Today show that Mr Watson's amendment was tabled before Easter.

Former Labour MP Tony Wright, who was chairman of the Public Administration Select Committee, said he did not understand how it had not been possible for the committee to reach agreement. He told the radio programme: "It's absolutely crucial that parliamentary select committees do not start splitting on partisan lines, because if they do, that's the kiss of death for the select committee system."