The Church Times reports that directors of News Corp met with representatives of the Church of England to talk about “serious ethical concerns” arising out of the recent phone-hacking scandal.
The secretary to the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG), Edward Mason, flew to the United States to attend the News Corp shareholders’ meeting and vote against the re-election of Rupert Murdoch’s sons, James and Lachlan, to the board of directors.
The Church holds $6 million in shares in News Corp, and wants to use its influence to try to change the company’s corporate governance.
Mr Mason said that he was granted a face-to-face meeting with a senior director, the first time that the Church had been able to engage directly with News Corp.
The attempt to remove James and Lachlan Murdoch from the board failed, as the Murdochs themselves own 40 per cent of the shares. It was revealed days after the meeting, however, that 35 per cent of voters were against James’s return to the board, and 34 per cent voted against Lachlan.
James has been recalled by Parliament next month to answer questions for a second time about phone-hacking at the News of the World.
Mr Mason said: “They cannot easily be defeated, but this time nearly 70 per cent of minority investors voted against members of the board. This level of dissatisfaction is remarkable. . . The EIAG’s normal strategy is to engage with companies when we have ethical concerns, and News Corp is at the top of the list at the moment for us. This is as serious as Vedanta for us — the ethical concerns are so great.”