The Evening Standard has the news that James Murdoch has resigned from the boards of the parent companies of the Sun and the Times. He will, however, remain chairman of News International, the ultimate owner of the titles.
The move will inevitably be seen through the prism of the phone-hacking scandal but it has more to do with Murdoch’s relocation to New York (“This is one company, not two,” Rupert told James, “and it is run out of New York.”) and the fact he’ll be spending less time in London. True, he has resigned as director of News Group Newspapers (the owner of the Sun and the defunct News of the World), the company embroiled in legal action over phone-hacking, but as News International chairman the board will continue to report to him. He has hardly cut himself loose from the papers.
But as the Standard notes, “his decision means no member of the Murdoch family now sits on the boards of the flagship UK papers”. James, who does not share his father’s romantic attachment to print, will be well aware of the symbolic significance.
Update: Harriet Harman has responded for Labour, urging Murdoch to “make clear why he has stepped down in this way.” She added: “This does not lessen in any way the need for him to answer questions or take responsibility for what happened on his watch. Furthermore, the concerns about whether he is a fit and proper person to run BSkyB remain.”