James Murdoch quits BSkyB role

James Murdoch's departure came despite receiving backing from BSkyB shareholders

James Murdoch's departure came despite receiving backing from BSkyB shareholders

First published in National News © by

James Murdoch's links to the News International phone-hacking scandal have continued to take their toll after he stepped down as chairman of satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

Mr Murdoch, who relinquished his role as NI executive chairman in February, said in a letter outlining the reasons for his departure he did not want his role as chairman to become a "lightning rod" for BSkyB.

The deputy chief operating officer at News Corporation, BSkyB's controlling shareholder, will stay on the board as a non-executive director and be replaced by deputy chairman Nick Ferguson.

Mr Murdoch leaves the position just weeks before a Government report is published into reporting practices at the News of the World and an expected appearance alongside his father Rupert, News Corp chairman and chief executive officer, at the Leveson Inquiry.

His departure comes despite receiving backing from BSkyB shareholders, who reappointed him at the company's annual general meeting last November. Mr Murdoch recently stepped down from the boards of auctioneer Sotheby's and pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline.

Mr Murdoch, who was appointed BSkyB chairman in December 2007, said: "As attention continues to be paid to past events at News International, I am determined that the interests of BSkyB should not be undermined by matters outside the scope of this company.

"I am aware that my role as chairman could become a lightning rod for BSkyB and I believe that my resignation will help to ensure that there is no false conflation with events at a separate organisation."

Tom Mockridge, chief executive of NI, which publishes The Times, the Sunday Times and the Sun, as well as the News of the World (NotW) before it was shut down, will replace Mr Ferguson as deputy chairman.

Mr Murdoch said in a letter to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee last month that he accepts his share of the blame for not uncovering phone hacking at the NotW sooner but denied he had turned a "blind eye" to allegations of criminal wrongdoing.

He was not reappointed as BSkyB chairman with ease, as a number of top investors raised concerns over how his links to the phone-hacking inquiry could damage the company's reputation.

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