Is James Murdoch a ‘dead man walking’?

Whatever criticism might have been targeted against Rupert or James Murdoch over the whole News International/News of the World phone hacking scandal, nobody could suggest that BSkyB hasn’t played a wholly balanced and fair game as far as its major 39 per cent shareholder is concerned.

Indeed, Sky News has been thorough and entirely open in its coverage. It has carried wall-to-wall transmissions of the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking and has led its news bulletins with every twist and turn as breaking news emerged from – and around – the inquiry.

Now, however, it is BSkyB which must act – one way or another – on whether it considers James Murdoch is a suitable person to formally head its business. Deputy Chairman Nicholas Ferguson has a duty of care obligation to review – and if considered necessary – politely dump James Murdoch from his chairmanship position if the BSkyB board sees James Murdoch as having damaged BSkyB’s reputation.

Last week, Murdoch resigned as chairman of News International. Some now think it’s time for him to step aside from BSkyB, at least until the whole torrid mess at Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper division comes to an end. Reportedly around ten investing shareholders in BSkyB are ready to see James go.

It is also understood that the BSkyB board of directors has drawn up a contingency plan should it be needed. And the likelihood is that by the end of March, when a British Parliamentary report is due – and which will almost certainly be critical of the Murdochs – pressure on James will inevitably increase.

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