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The Globe and Mail

James Murdoch to stay chairman of BSkyB: source

BskyB chairman James Murdoch


James Murdoch has won the unanimous support of British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC directors to remain as chairman, a person familiar with the situation said on Thursday.

He will remain chairman of the satellite broadcaster for the foreseeable future, directors decided after a long discussion in the boardroom after a two-hour meeting.

But they added that they would "keep a watching brief" on what the person called "external issues," a reference to the phone-hacking story which has embroiled Rupert Murdoch's other U.K. asset, the newspaper group News International.

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The BSkyB board has resisted calls from some investors for a radical change of personnel, but over the next few months at least two directors, Allan Leighton and David Evans, are likely to step down to be replaced.

Both men are long-serving directors and would have stepped down were it not for the News Corp. bid for BSkyb in June, 2010, which led to a 13-month regulatory process that was only resolved when Mr. Murdoch withdrew his bid. The phone-hacking scandal threatened to flare up again on Thursday with claims that the News of the World hacked the phone of Sara Payne, who became the focus of a campaign for tougher laws on sex offenders after her eight-year-old daughter Sarah was abducted and murdered.

The Guardian reported that police were investigating whether the phone Ms. Payne was using when a private detective intercepted voice mail on it was one given to her by Rebekah Brooks, then editor of the Sunday tabloid.

Ms. Brooks went on to become chief executive of News International, resigning earlier this month despite saying she knew nothing of the extent of phone-hacking at the paper.

The revelation about Ms. Payne could be particularly embarrassing for Ms. Brooks, if proven, because under her editorship the News of the World mounted a crusade against pedophiles, as a result of which several innocent people were assaulted by members of the public.

Ms. Brooks often claims that campaign as the greatest achievement of her tenure.

The news broke on the day of the launch of a public inquiry, led by Lord Justice Leveson, which he said would initially concentrate on issues surrounding the relationship between the press, politicians and the police.

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