LONDON (AFP) – Media boss Rupert Murdoch called the police investigation into his News International journalists a "disgrace" in a secret recording of talks with staff from the Sun newspaper, aired on British television Wednesday.
The Australian-born businessman was forced to close the News of the World tabloid in 2011 after its journalists were found to have hacked mobile phones.
Police are also investigating payments to public officials for information.
Murdoch, the boss of News Corporation, then News International's parent company, called the payments "the culture of Fleet Street," according to tapes obtained by Channel 4 News.
"We're talking about payments for news tips from cops: that's been going on a hundred years, absolutely," he is heard telling staff.
"You didn't instigate it."
In a discussion about the Metropolitan police's handling of the inquiry into his company, Murdoch is heard to say: "It's a disgrace. Here we are two years later, and the cops are totally incompetent."
"The idea that the cops then started coming after you, kick you out of bed, and your families, at six in the morning, is unbelievable," he added.
He also seems to suggest "it was a mistake" handing over documents to the police.
"In that atmosphere, at that time, we said, 'Look, we are an open book, we will show you everything'. And the lawyers just got rich going through millions of emails," he says on the recording.
News Corp later issued a statement saying: "No other company has done as much to identify what went wrong, compensate the victims, and ensure the same mistakes do not happen again."
Murdoch was showing "understandable empathy" with Sun staff, the News of the World's sister paper, it added.
Labour MP Tom Watson, who was a major force in exposing the hacking scandal, called for Murdoch to be questioned by police over the tapes.