News Ltd ‘happy’ to answer PM’s questions
News Limited says it would be happy to answer the prime minister’s questions about its operations, as the phone hacking furore surrounding its global media parent continues.
CHAIRMAN and chief executive John Hartigan was responding to Prime Minister Julia Gillard‘s remark that the Australian company had some “hard questions” to answer in the wake of the scandal.
“The prime minister’s comments seek to draw a link between News Corporation operations in the UK and those here in Australia,” Mr Hartigan said in a statement.
“The comments were unjustified and regrettable.”
Ms Gillard said on Wednesday Australians had been disturbed by the events in the UK.
“When people have seen telephones hacked into, when people have seen individuals grieving have 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 Ltd here,” she told reporters at Gundurrah in southern NSW.
“Obviously News Limited has got a responsibility to answer those questions when they’re asked.”
Ms Gillard did not say what those questions were.
But Mr Hartigan said News would be happy to respond.
“There is no evidence that similar behaviour has occurred at News in Australia,” he said.
“We have answered every question put to us on this issue openly.
“If the prime minister has more questions we would be happy to respond.”
Earlier on Wednesday, federal coalition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull said if Ms Gillard had questions she should put them to News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch.
“I’m sure he would be quite capable of answering whatever questions she has for him,” he told reporters.
Mr Turnbull, himself a former journalist, also said he did not believe phone hacking by journalists had happened in Australia.
“There is no evidence of which I’m aware that that sort of phone hacking has been going on in Australia, whether by News Limited journalists or anybody else,” he said.
“If there was evidence of that, then again that is something the police should deal with.”
Ms Gillard’s remarks came after Mr Murdoch and his son James appeared before a UK parliamentary committee in London on Tuesday to answer questions about phone hacking at its UK operations.
The media magnate apologised for the hurt caused by the behaviour of journalists and hired private investigators, which led to the closure of his News of the World newspaper.
The News of the World was accused of being involved in hacking the mobile phones of dead victims of crime to access messages in the pursuit of information for stories.