James Murdoch had been seen as the undisputed heir to his father's media empire, until the phone-hacking scandal erupted. But as the younger Murdoch faces the prospect of his evidence to parliament being called into question by former colleagues on Tuesday, there are growing doubts coming from inside his family about his suitability for the top position at News Corporation.
The immediate cause of the rift stems from what insiders call "a big family row" at the height of the crisis in July, the week after the 'News of the World' closed. Members of the Murdoch clan descended on the company's Wapping headquarters in London to work out their battle plan, but within days Elisabeth Murdoch, James's sister, had walked out, because in the words of one observer who asked not to be named, "she had had enough of it all".
Elisabeth was not in London to advise or support Rupert or James when they appeared before MPs the following week. This was in marked contrast to her other brother Lachlan, who quit the family company in 2005. He arrived midweek and spent most of his time in Britain assisting his father, who at 80 spent most of that period "tired and exhausted".