Les Hinton, Murdoch's predecessor as executive chairman of News International, along with former News of the World editor Colin Myler and legal affairs manager Tom Crone, have been found guilty of misleading a committee of MPs over hacking. They could now be ordered to apologise in the House of Commons.
The cross-party Commons culture, media and sport select committee today published its report on an investigation into hacking launched in July 2011.
The probe came in the wake of allegations that the News of the World had hacked the phones of various high-profile individuals, including murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
The committee, which heard evidence from various people connected to the scandal, including Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch, said that it was "astonishing" that senior executives at News International claim that they were unaware of the true scale of hacking at the News of the World.
James Murdoch has faced questions over how much he knew about hacking at the paper when he signed off a £700,000 settlement to footballers' union boss and hacking victim Gordon Taylor in 2008.
Murdoch claimed not to have seen the key 'for Neville' email in 2008 that suggested hacking went beyond just one "rogue reporter" at the News of the World, but this claim was later rebutted by Myler and Crone.
The committee said in its report that Crone in particular had given "conflicting accounts" on whether he showed Murdoch the email, while Murdoch has been "consistent" in denying that he saw the full document before signing off the payment to Taylor.
"Given the conflicting accounts, however - and the reliability of evidence we have been given previously by witnesses from News International - the reality is that we cannot come to a definitive conclusion, one way or the other," said the MPs.
Crone was found to have misled the committee in evidence given in 2009 on the Gordon Taylor settlement, and again last year alongside Myler in evidence on their statements that other News of the World employees had been involved in the wrongdoing.
Murdoch did not absolved totally, though, as the report said it was "astonishing" that he had exhibited a "lack of curiosity" or "even wilful ignorance" of the background of the Taylor case.
"Even for a large company, £700,000 is a not inconsequential sum of money, and it is extraordinary that the chief executive should authorise its payment on the basis of such scant information," said the report of Murdoch's actions.
"If he did, indeed, not ask to see either document, particularly the counsel's opinion, this clearly raises questions of competence on the part of News International's then chairman and chief executive."
Elsewhere in the report, the committee refrained from "drawing conclusions" on any individuals who have been arrested by police investigating wrongdoing by newspapers, in order to avoid the risk of prejudicing any future criminal trial.
This meant that there was no specific indication on whether Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, and Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World, may have misled MPs with their evidence.
But they did say that Brooks, also a former editor of the News of the World, must "accept responsibility" for the culture at now defunct Sunday tabloid that led to the use of hacking.
The committee reserved its most stinging criticism for Hinton, finding that he had misled the Committee in 2009 by not telling the truth over payments made to Clive Goodman, the former News of the World royal editor who was jailed for phone hacking in 2007.
Goodman was paid a total of £243,502.08 by News International from the time of his arrest in August 2006, until the conclusion of his unfair dismissal claims against the company.
The MPs said that the level of payment to Goodman, which was signed off by Hinton, was "extraordinary when one considers that he had been convicted of a criminal offence and that his actions had helped stain the reputation of the company".
"The double payment of a year's salary was, by any standards, 'over-generous' and it is impossible, therefore, not to question the company's motives. The pay-offs to a convicted criminal hardly reflect well on Les Hinton, who had authority over both payments," they said.
"When questioned about them in 2009 he was startlingly vague and - inexcusably - sought to portray his role as a passive one, simply following the advice given to him by his subordinates.
"The evidence we took in 2011 suggests that he not only authorised the payments, but took the decision to make them in the first place."
Hinton was also found to have misled the committee about the true extent of his knowledge of allegations that phone hacking extended beyond Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire, the jailed private investigator hired by the News of the World, to others at the paper.
Overall, the News of the World and its parent company News International were found to have misled the committee and covered up the true extent of hacking, but the MPs said that ultimate responsibility must rest with Rupert and James Murdoch.
The MPs added: "Their instinct throughout, until it was too late, was to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing and discipline the perpetrators, as they also professed they would do after the criminal convictions.
"In failing to investigate properly, and by ignoring evidence of widespread wrongdoing, News International and its parent News Corporation exhibited wilful blindness, for which the companies' directors - including Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch - should ultimately be prepared to take responsibility."