Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch must go, says UK pensions group
Published Friday, Oct 7 2011, 09:17 BST | By Andrew Laughlin |

Rupert Murdoch and his son James should be forced out of the News Corporation board, and replaced with former British Airways chief executive Rod Eddington, according to a group representing 100bn of UK council pension funds.

The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) is the latest public sector group to issue a voting alert to its members over the News Corp board's responsibility for the phone hacking scandal at its UK publisher, News International.

Ahead of News Corp's annual meeting on October 21, the LAPFF has called for News International chairman James Murdoch to be removed from the board, arguing that his continued presence is "causing significant reputational damage" to the firm.

The group, whose 54 members have combined assets of 100bn, also wants a separation of the chairman and chief executive roles currently held by Rupert Murdoch, which it says should lead to the election of a "genuinely independent chair".

The LAPFF has not called for a total overhaul of News Corp's independent directors, but it does want Eddington to lead the restructure, and so is leading the calls for his re-election as a News Corp director. It says he should be assisted by News Corp directors Andrew Knight and Viet Dinh.

Forum chairman Ian Greenwood said: "News Corp and its shareholders desperately want to draw a line under this scandal, but that will only be possible if the board accepts the need to demonstrate real accountability.

"That requires a change in the structure and the makeup of the board. Whilst these are difficult issues for the company to address, we believe that to secure News Corp's long-term future such reform is necessary."

James Murdoch is also facing calls for his removal from the News Corp board from the UK shareholder advisory group, Pirc.

The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI), which manages A$250bn (158bn) of assets, is demanding Rupert Murdoch be replaced as chair by someone "genuinely independent". It further wants James and his brother Lachlan removed from the board.