19:07 23 July 2012
Media magnate Rupert Murdoch has stepped down as News International director, resigning from a string of directorships connected with his disgraced UK newspaper network.
Murdoch, 81, quit the boards of NI Group Ltd, NewsCorp Investments and Times Newspaper Holdings over the weekend.
Amid the phone hacking scandal (as well as circulation figures in print media declining in recent years), Murdoch had previously announced his plans to split his empire.
This meant that his newspaper empire which contained the now-closed News of the World as well as The Sun were separate from his entertainment empire. The entertainment side of the business is made up primarily of the massive 20th Century Fox film and television company.
A spokesman for Murdoch played down the resignations news: "Last week, Mr Murdoch stepped down from a number of boards, many of them small subsidiary boards, both in the UK and US.
"This is nothing more than a corporate house-cleaning exercise prior to the company split."
Media commentator Steve Hewlett, however, told the BBC that Murdoch appeared to be distancing himself from the "nightmare" scandal.
He said: "For Rupert Murdoch to make this move, however, away from these titles, which he has invested 40 years of his life in, is plainly significant."
The Leveson phone hacking enquiry is due to hear closing submissions on Tuesday.
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