James Murdoch has stepped down as executive chairman of News International, the British arm of News Corp., the company announced Wednesday. Murdoch, who was once seen as the heir apparent to his father Rupert at the head of News Corp., has now lost a key position within the company.
News Corp. cast the move as stemming from James’ recent relocation to New York from London, and Rupert Murdoch said his son would “continue to assume a variety of essential corporate leadership mandates.” He will also remain as the deputy COO of News Corp. But the reshuffling will be widely seen as a reflection of James’ deeply diminished stature following wave after wave of damaging allegations about his complicity in News Corp.’s still-simmering phone hacking scandal. That scandal has mushroomed into a full-blown nightmare for the company, with the persistent threat of serious prosecution hanging in the air.