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Hacking: How much did James Murdoch know?

Doubt has been cast over key evidence the News International chief gave on Tuesday as one MP says he will ask police to review the matter.

James Murdoch giving evidence on Tuesday.
James Murdoch giving evidence on Tuesday.
Image: PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images

QUESTIONS HAVE BEEN raised about the evidence given by News Corporation chief James Murdoch to MPs regarding the phone hacking scandal in the UK.

On Tuesday, the chairman and CEO of News Corporation in Europe and Asia told a House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) select committee that he was not aware of an email suggesting the practice of phone hacking went beyond a rogue News of  the World reporter.

However, former NotW editor Colin Myler and former News International legal manager Tom Crone have said they did inform Murdoch of the email’s existence.

The issue centres on Murdoch’s authorisation of an out-of-court settlement of more than £600,000 to the former chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association, Gordon Taylor, over the hacking of his phone’s voicemail.

Murdoch claims that when he authorised the payment he was not made aware of an email which would appear to implicate more than one reporter was involved in the hacking of phones.

In 2007, NotW’s royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for hacking the phones of member of the royal family. At the time voicemail hacking was said to have gone no further than those two men but it has since transpired that potentially thousands of phones were hacked by people working for the News of the World.

The email in question is said to have been marked “For Neville” implying it was for the News of the World’s chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck who has since been sacked by the newspaper and arrested as part of the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into the scandal.

Asked by Labour MP Tom Watson on the CMS committee, was he made aware of the email Murdoch said: ”No, I was not aware of that at the time.”

Myler and Crone claim that Murdoch was aware, releasing a statement last night, which is carried in the Guardian:

Just by way of clarification relating to Tuesday’s Culture, Media Select Committee hearing, we would like to point out that James Murdoch’s recollection of what he was told when agreeing to settle the Gordon Taylor litigation was mistaken. In fact, we did inform him of the ‘for Neville’ email which had been produced to us by Gordon Taylor’s lawyers.

In a statement issued by News Corporation, Murdoch stood by his testimony but the implications could be far reaching if he turns out to have not told the truth in this matter.

Channel 4 News reports that Tom Watson plans to ask police to review Murdoch’s evidence to the committee in light of this matter arising.

Much about the phone hacking scandal has centred on who knew what and when they knew it.

In separate development yesterday, The Sun newspaper said it has sacked features Matt Nixson who had worked at the News of the World from 2006.

The Telegraph reports that his computer was seized by News International officials and that police have been informed. His sacking is part of a News International attempt to ensure the rest of the group’s papers are not tarnished by the scandal.

Meanwhile BBC News is reporting that the FBI in the US is planning to contact Jude Law following claims that his phone was hacked during a visit to the US.

Read: Rupert and James Murdoch: What they said >

Read: Grant wins access to police records, as royals dragged into Coulson row >

Poll: Do you believe the Murdochs’ claims of ignorance? >


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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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