Murdoch bows out of GSK board to focus on work

News Corp's James Murdoch has enough on his plate these days, what with moving to the U.S. and taking over as COO, not to mention answering pointed questions about that phone-hacking scandal. No time, then, for GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) board meetings. At least that's how GSK is explaining Murdoch's decision to give up his board seat.

"James Murdoch has decided to stand down from the board with effect from this year's AGM (in May)," GSK Chairman Christopher Gent said in a statement. Board members are expected to attend 6 two- to three-day meetings per year, plus site visits and other meetings, Reuters reports. Murdoch's pay for the job was £98,000, or about $154,000, in 2010.

A GSK spokesman told The Wall Street Journal it was Murdoch's choice to leave. The company's "position hasn't changed" on the phone-hacking scandal, the spokesman said; "the full facts" have yet to be established. "[I]nvestigations [must be] allowed to take place and come to conclusion," he told the WSJ.

Murdoch has faced allegations that he either helped to cover up the phone-hacking tactics that have been under investigation by Scotland Yard and government officials in the U.K., or he didn't do enough to dig up the truth once the accusations surfaced. A report from Parliament is due in a few weeks, Reuters points out, and there's a chance that it will criticize Murdoch's actions. Now third-in-command at his father's News Corp organization, Murdoch has also given up board roles at the company's newspaper operating companies, but continues to serve as chairman of the overall newspaper unit, the WSJ notes.

- read the release from GSK
- see the WSJ piece
- get more from Reuters

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