As the News of the World phone-hacking scandal rages on, News Corp. Deputy COO James Murdoch has resigned from the boards of the companies that run The Sun and The Times newspapers as he hands more control to News International CEO Tom Mockridge in London.
Murdoch, 38, will remain on the Times’ editorial board and stay on as chairman of News International Ltd., News Corp.’s U.K. publishing unit, the company said in a statement.
However, The UK Financial Times and the Sunday Times and analysts said he could soon sever all ties with the troubled newspaper group. The surprise move also raises minor speculation about News Corp.’s commitment to its newspapers.
In a recent shareholder vote, James Murdoch received the most “no” votes of any Murdoch family member for re-election to the board – over 232 million.
Filings show James Murdoch has stepped down from the boards of both News Group Newspapers Limited – publisher of the Sun – and Times Newspapers Limited, which operates The Times and Sunday Times. NGN used to operate the News of the World and remains embroiled in legal action over phone hacking.
Mockridge replaced Murdoch on the two boards in September following his appointment as CEO News International. Mockridge joined after News International ousted former CEO Rebekah Brooks because of her involvement in the phone-hacking scandal that led News Corp. to shutter the News of the World tabloid and end a $12 billion bid for a stake in British Sky Broadcasting.
The departures come as James Murdoch faces calls to quit as chairman of BSkyB. His decision means no member of the Murdoch family now sits on the boards of the flagship UK papers. James Murdoch has also quit at least one other subsidiary, News International Holdings.
Even though he has stepped down, Murdoch still faces intense pressure as the police investigate hacking at the News of the World.