Rupert Murdoch has been recorded saying wrongdoing by his British newspapers was "next to nothing" and telling staff he knew his journalists were bribing officials.
In a tape obtained by the ExaroNews journalism website and broadcast on Channel 4 News, Murdoch was heard saying, "it's the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing."
He also complained about "totally incompetent" police officers and seems to express regret about the extent of his company's co-operation with the police.
The outlets say the tape was recorded during a meeting in March with journalists at his newspaper The Sun — many of whom are under investigation over illegal news-gathering practices, the BBC points out.
A Sun journalist asked him:
"I’m pretty confident that the working practices that I’ve seen here are ones that I’ve inherited, rather than instigated."
"We're talking about payments for news tips from cops: that's been going on a hundred years. You didn’t instigate it."
Several Sun staff have been charged as part a police investigation into phone hacking and bribery, or more specifically inappropriate payments made to police and other public officials by journalists.
News Corp. said it had co-operated fully with police and worked hard to eliminate wrongdoing.
The company has denied that Murdoch was aware of any bribery at the time, saying:
"Mr. Murdoch never knew of payments made by Sun staff to police before News Corporation disclosed that to U.K. authorities. Furthermore, he never said he knew of payments. It’s absolutely false to suggest otherwise."
However, British Labout politician Tom Watson has urged police to question Murdoch and said the tape and transcript should be "in the hands of the police".
He told Channel 4:
"I hope that they're going to be interviewing Rupert Murdoch about what he did know about criminality in his organization."
He added: "What I would like to know is what are they sitting on that they've not given the police."