The top 10 villains of 2011

Murdoch NOTWAnother whirlwind year is nearly up, so who made the headlines for all the wrong reasons? Well, there's been a fraudster, fighters, a philanderer and a forgetful old fart to name a few.

Our list of the top 10 villains of 2011 will guide you through who the world has loved to hate this year.

As always, tell us what you think below.
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Business villains of 2011
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The top 10 villains of 2011
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The list in full
1. The Murdochs, Rupert and James
2. Sean Quinn
3. Southern Cross management team
4. Kweku Adoboli
5. George Osborne
6. Sir Fred Goodwin
7. HSBC and NHFA advisers
8. Silvio Berlusconi
9. Boris Berezovsky vs Roman Abramovich

Read on for full entries on why they make the grade

1. The Murdochs, Rupert and James
An old man sits next to his son, with his young trophy wife looking on attentively, as he utters his statement: "This is the most humbling day of my life." Then the old man is covered in a foam pie, his son half-heartedly tries to protect him but his wife expertly throws an Ali-like right hook at the assailant, becoming an overnight media sensation.

As though plucked from the pages of the now defunct News of the World, this year saw the modern day Borgias suddenly become vaudeville villains in the media pantomime that has played out since the phone hacking scandals were first exposed.

The House of Murdoch suddenly saw its vast Doric columns wobble as the foundations on which it had been built - power, politics, money and fear – began to slip away under scrutiny of its UK media empire and its management.

Rupert and James Murdoch were put through 'trail by select committee' and the world witnessed a supposedly forgetful octogenarian claim he had no knowledge of "transgressions" at News International and rang the editor of the News of the World "very seldom" to enquire what was in the news. However his continual banging on the table when frustrated, with a nervous James forever interjecting and his Chinese wife Wendi trying to soothe his temper, showed that the obfuscation was a cleverly orchestrated act devised by his lawyers.

In November the grand inquisitor Tom Watson MP accused James Murdoch of being "the only mafia boss in history who didn't know he was running a criminal organisation" and claimed News International management ran the business under a code of 'omerta', the Mafia's vow of silence. Murdoch's Jane Austen-like response that these comments were "inappropriate" displayed how the heir apparent had polished his own persona for the UK public. He remained courteous, calm and even with his faux Ivy League accent, a voice of reason among the allegations of a company corrupt, venal and out of control.

In business terms, the House of Commons drama was an irritating sideshow for Rupert and his big deal of the new century – to claw back full control of the jewel in his UK crown, the satellite behemoth BSkyB. Print is dead, long live digital. But the scandal in his old media – newspapers – scuppered the BSkyB deal in July. Withdrawing the deal and the subsequent closure of the News of the World, wiped nearly £2.5billion from News Corp coffers, and its shareprice lost 17% during the height of the scandal.

Since then a $5bn buy-back deal, using the war chest earmarked for the BSkyB failed bid, has helped restore faith in the shareprice which is trading back close to the $18 a share, where is was pre-July. Murdoch senior made some swift moves to sell yet more shares in November before a crucial vote by BSkyB investors to oust James from his chairmanship of the broadcaster. James survived though took heavy flak from angry investors which included Standard Life, which raised concerns of his "stewardship shortcomings at the News of the World".

So 2011 ends with questions surrounding the corporate governance within the dynastic legacy Rupert Murdoch hopes to leave behind. Rumours are that Rebekah Brooks is still receiving a £1m payoff and grace and favour office and car from the Murdochs, while her erstwhile colleague Andy Coulson is suing News International for breaching its promise to pay his legal fees incurred by the phone hacking scandal. Plus the Levenson inquiry is now investigating if the damning Milly Dowler 'deleted messages' allegations were actually true.

Even the dearly departed News of the Screws couldn't have made this up!

Continued...
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