NEW YORK - Les Hinton, the chief executive of Dow Jones & Co., has resigned, becoming the latest News Corp. executive casualty in the phone-hacking and bribery scandal in Britain.
Hinton served as executive chairman of the British unit that oversaw News Corp.'s U.K. tabloid newspapers at the heart of the scandal for 12 years. A member of the board of The Associated Press, Hinton became head of Dow Jones in December 2007.
Hinton's resignation Friday comes on the same day that News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks quit, following the phone hacking scandal that has rocked Rupert Murdoch's news empire.
Hinton said in a statement that he was "ignorant of what apparently happened" but felt it was proper to resign. He apologized for the hurt caused by the actions of journalists who worked for the now-shuttered tabloid, News of the World.
Despite being a blow to News Corp., Hinton's resignation could potentially help Murdoch as he prepares to deliver testimony to Britain's Parliament on Tuesday, according to a BNET story. With Hinton saying in his resignation letter that he didn't know about the News of the World phone hacking, Murdoch and his son James could say that the company's top brass didn't know about the practice as well.
In a farewell e-mail sent out Friday afternoon, Hinton wrote:
Many of you will be aware by now that I resigned today from Dow Jones and News Corp. I attach below my resignation letter to Rupert Murdoch.
It is a deeply, deeply sad day for me.
I want you all to know the pride and pleasure I have taken working at Dow Jones for the past three-and-a-half years. I have never been with better, more dedicated people, or had more fun in a job.
News Corp under Rupert's brilliant leadership has proved a fitting parent of Dow Jones, allowing us to invest and expand as other media companies slashed costs. This support enabled us together to strengthen the company during a brutal economic downturn, developing fine new products - not to mention one of the world's great newspapers led by one of the world's great editors, my dear friend and colleague Robert Thomson.
However difficult this moment is for me, I depart with the certain knowledge that we have built the momentum to take Dow Jones on to ever greater things.
Good luck to you all and thank you.
Murdoch wrote an e-mail to Dow Jones employees about Hinton's resignation:
To Dow Jones employees,
You will have just heard that I, with the heaviest of hearts, have accepted the resignation of Les Hinton. It is a measure of his integrity and the quality of his character that he felt compelled to take responsibility even though he is far from the serious issues in London.
Les and I have been on a remarkable journey together for more than 52 years. That this passage has come to an unexpected end, professionally, not personally, is a matter of much sadness to me. I vividly recall an enthusiastic young man in the offices of my first newspaper in Adelaide, where Les joined the company as a 15-year-old and had the rather unenviable task of buying me sandwiches for lunch.
It was clear then that Les was a remarkable talent, and that he had the ability and the energy to carry him far. Little did we both realize that we would be travel companions on a journey through the world of magazines, Hollywood, television studios, coupons and the greatest newspapers on the globe. Little did we realize that our corporate relationship would end in these circumstances.
Through all of his many jobs he has displayed leadership - and that leadership has enabled us to make remarkable progress at the Dow Jones company while our competitors have been flailing because of structural change and economic crisis.
Three and a half years ago, when I stood atop boxes of photocopy paper in the rather dowdy offices of the old Dow Jones, there was no doubt some apprehension among the staff about the new management. No amount of reassurance or cajoling can convince a person to respect another - respect only comes through the reality of day-after-day contact. Respect is earned not granted. Les has earned the respect of all at Dow Jones, both for the way he conducts himself and for the way he has conducted the company.
On this difficult day we should appreciate that his extraordinary work has provided a platform for the future success of Dow Jones. And his great contribution to News Corporation over more than five decades has enhanced innumerable lives, whether those of employees hired by him or of readers better informed because of him.
Let me emphasize one point - News Corporation is not Rupert Murdoch. It is the collective creativity and effort of many thousands of people around the world, and few individuals have given more to this company than Les Hinton.