Got a Problem? Blame the Help Desk.

In what might be the modern equivalent of the cat-ate-my-homework excuse perfected by a previous generation of school children, James Murdoch is offering a new defense for ignorance of critical matters: Blame the IT shop.

Murdoch's lawyers say the tabloid executive never received an email chain describing the scope of phone hacking at the now defunct News of the World because it was deleted in a software upgrade, according to a report by BBC News today.

A letter from the Linklater law firm representing Murdoch says the news that rocked Rupert Murcoch's publishing empire never reached his son thanks to an "email stabilisation and modernisation programme."