Photo: Flickr user: Lucy Watt
As News Corporation‘s shareholders sit down in Los Angeles this week to begin their AGM, they’ll know that at the back of the room there’s a man bent on reprimanding the company.Hailing from the British Midlands, Tom Watson (not the golfer) is a U.K. politician and lawmaker.
And, Rupert Murdoch, he is coming for you.
Not content with bashing News Corporation from the Houses of Parliament, Watson bought shares in the company so that he could speak at their AGM. He plans to tell executives of his disgust at the whole phone hacking scandal that dominated the British media this summer.
So, who is this man who dares try to confront Mr. Murdoch. Let’s find out…
Elected to parliament in 2001, Wired reported that Watson was the first MP to have his own blog.
The magazine has also reported that Watson has campaigned against disconnecting users from the Internet as well as supporting data freedom. He has also set up a support group for gamers to protect them from critics.
During Watson's second stint in office he was forced to resign after signing a note that said then-Prime Minister Tony Blair should quit in 2006.
That annoyed Blair, but it also annoyed one of his friends; Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of defunct newspaper, The News of The World and News Corporation's defining publication, The Sun.
The BBC reported that Watson was told by journalists at the two papers that Brooks would 'never forgive' him. Whether it was fear of the papers' wrath that prompted his resignation is unclear. He's said it was more a desire to move his family out of the spotlight.
According to the BBC, Watson was reinstated in politics after Gordon Brown took over the role of Prime Minister from Blair in 2007.
Prior to that he joined the culture select committee, hoping to keep himself out of the spotlight, but the Guardian's phone hacking investigation put that idea to bed. The committee, including Watson, was asked to look into the possibility that News Corporation had used phone hacking at their publications.
Watson told the BBC that the company tried to have him removed from the committee.
Brown appointed Watson to the position of minister for digital engagement in 2008, probably because of his tech-savvy nature.
Then, once again, Watson fell out with News Corporation when The Sun reported that he was involved in a smear campaign against the Conservative Party. The allegation was false. The Sun paid out damages to Watson.
Watson was tied up in the MPs expenses scandal in 2009 when it was discovered he abused his expense account.
The Telegraph reported that he spent over £100,000 ($158,000) on a luxury apartment for himself and a colleague. He also exceeded his annual allowance for food.
Such was his appetite that he was given a free pizza-wheel following a $240 shopping spree in a British supermarket.
In January of this year Watson turned his attention to a then-Fox News employee, Glenn Beck.
Directing his anger at a New Corporation employee across the Atlantic, Watson said that Beck was a 'bigot' and an 'unthinking buffoon.'
You're probably getting the impression that there's not a lot of love lost between Watson and News Corporation. You'd be right.
...And when the news broke about phone hacking at the News of the World, guess who was one of the most vocal opponents of the organisation?
Here's Watson declaring that News Corporation had entered the 'criminal underworld.'
In July, in the midst of the summer's phone hacking scandal, Watson also claimed that the company should be investigated for fraud.
The Telegraph reported that the allegation stemmed from the payments the News of the World initially made to victims of phone hacking in 2006.
It was, and still is, Watson's opinion that phone hacking went way beyond just the News of the World.
He claimed at the Labour Party Conference last month that The Sun had a lot of questions to answer and that its current editor used to joke about phone hacking at parties.
The Guardian reported that Watson also called for the head of News Corporation big-wig James Murdoch.
...And, in his own mind, he's going to make Murdoch's life hell. Which he may. Or he may not. One of the two.
Bloomberg has reported that Watson had bought shares in the company and was planning to call it out at its own AGM. Announcing his intentions caused his colleagues to chortle, but will it be Watson who has the last laugh?
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