Rupert Murdoch has reneged on claims the investigation into phone hacking and corruption is "totally incompetent" but said Scotland Yard's probe appears "excessive" and has "gone on too long".
In a letter responding to demands from MPs that the media magnate explain comments he made about police at a staff meeting, he conceded using the "wrong adjectives" to describe his frustration at events over the last two years.
But the News Corp boss also questioned whether officers had "approached these matters with an appropriate sense of proportion" and said it would be unfair to suggest his company had impeded the Metropolitan Police's inquiries.
Mr Murdoch was apparently recorded describing the treatment of journalists who had been arrested as a "disgrace" during a meeting in March and saying that police had been told to obtain court orders to get information, rather than the company offering up material as it had done previously.
A spokesman for News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch has announced that he has accepted the request by MPs on the culture, media and sport committee to appear in front of them again, after a recording emerged of him apparently venting his anger about police investigations into his newspapers:
Mr Murdoch welcomes the opportunity to return to the Select Committee and answer their questions.
He looks forward to clearing up any misconceptions as soon as possible.
Police will "fully assess" a recording of comments apparently made by Rupert Murdoch during a meeting with News International journalists.
Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick confirmed the force is trying to get a copy of the clip of Mr Murdoch speaking to members of staff from the Sun in March.
- No date has yet been agreed for Rupert Murdoch to reappear before MPs, but it is not expected to be until the autumn
- It comes after a recording emerged of him apparently venting his anger about police investigations into phone-hacking and payments to officials
- Scotland Yard is currently assessing the recording made during a meeting with News International journalists
Rupert Murdoch has been invited to re-appear before the Commons Culture Media and Sport committee. It comes after a recording emerged of him apparently telling journalists he regretted the level of co-operation given by News International to the investigation into phone hacking and illegal payments.
Former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis said he is "glad" that Rupert Murdoch "stood by his staff" after hearing secret audio recordings made during a News Corp meeting.
Phone-hacking charges against Mr Wallis were dropped in February this year.
He also replied to a Twitter user who asked whether he thought Murdoch was "really backing the staff":
In one clip from a secret audio recording obtained by Channel 4 News, Rupert Murdoch is heard branding police "totally incompetent" and damning the Scotland Yard inquiry into corrupt payments to public officials.
"It's the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing," he says.
Hear more of the recordings at Channel 4 News.
A News Corp statement said Mr Murdoch was showing "understandable empathy" to his staff.
Defending Rupert Murdoch's pledge to staff, a spokesman for News Corp told Channel 4 News:
No other company has done as much to identify what went wrong, compensate the victims, and ensure the same mistakes do not happen again.
The unprecedented co-operation granted by News Corp was agreed unanimously by senior management and the board, and the MSC continues to co-operate under the supervision of the courts.
Rupert Murdoch has shown understandable empathy with the staff and families affected and will assume they are innocent until and unless proven guilty.
An MP has called for police action after Rupert Murdoch was apparently recorded telling journalists he regretted the level of cooperation over phone-hacking and illegal payments.
Labour MP Tom Watson called for police to question Mr Murdoch over the alleged comments, telling Channel 4 News:
What I would like to know is what are they sitting on that they've not given the police. And I'm sure that this transcript and this audiotape should be in the hands of the police tomorrow because I hope that they're going to be interviewing Rupert Murdoch about what he did know about criminality in his organisation ...
Rupert Murdoch told Parliament one thing and told his staff another. He told Parliament that he was fully co-operating with the police, he told his staff that it was a mistake they were co-operating with the police.
Rupert Murdoch also appears to suggest in the recording, broadcast by Channel 4 News, that any journalists who were convicted and jailed in connection with the phone-hacking inquiry could get their jobs back. He is heard saying:
I will do everything in my power to give you total support, even if you're convicted and get six months or whatever.
You're all innocent until proven guilty. What you're asking is: what happens if some of you are proven guilty? What afterwards?
I'm not allowed to promise you - I will promise you continued health support - but your jobs. I've got to be careful what comes out - but, frankly, I won't say it, but just trust me.
A spokesman for News Corp told Channel 4 News: "Rupert Murdoch has shown understandable empathy with the staff and families affected and will assume they are innocent until and unless proven guilty."