Pressure mounts on James Murdoch as board convenes

James Murdoch

Will he be gone by Friday? Even his cheerleaders say it’s time for a shake-up

BY Ben Riley-Smith LAST UPDATED AT 17:42 ON Mon 25 Jul 2011

With it becoming increasingly apparent that James Murdoch's appearance before the Commons select committee last Tuesday has failed to silence the mounting criticism of his role in the phone hacking scandal, could this be the week that he steps down as chairman of BSkyB?
 
Murdoch Jnr's display in front of MPs was initially said to have been greeted with approval from News Corp's shareholders. But by the end of the week, after accusations that Murdoch had lied to the Commons about the extent of his knowledge when signing off settlements to Gordon Taylor, his position is said to be in jeopardy.
 
David Cameron declared before the weekend that News International had "some big issues to deal with" and that the management of the company was "an issue for the shareholders". With the board of BSkyB convening this Thursday for the first time since the scandal broke, what chance does James have of still being around by the weekend?
 
Not much, according to the New York Times's David Carr. "James Murdoch is done," he wrote yesterday. "He and his father both know that. His testimony curdled as he emitted it, and within two days a couple of former News Corporation executives publicly challenged it.
 
"The hooks are still in him, as Prime Minister David Cameron made clear when he said James still had 'questions to answer.' And so he will, gradually sinking further into the mess he has overseen."
 
Paul Farrelly, a Labour member of the culture committee, agrees. "It now seems to be everyone for themselves," he was quoted over the weekend as saying. "The edifice is cracking; they're all fighting like rats in a sack."
 
The Telegraph's Katherine Rushton was less certain about Murdoch's future, but predicted senior heads would still fall. "One figure close to BSkyB admitted the situation was now 'fluid'," she wrote.
 
"Analysts believe Murdoch's resignation is already to a large extent factored into BSkyB's share price," she continued, pointing out that "even Murdoch's cheerleaders are clear that there is a need for a shake-up of some sort." · 

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