Colin Myler challenges Murdoch select committee claims

James Murdoch could be asked to clarify his evidence to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, chairman John Whittingdale has said.

His remarks came after claims from two former senior News International staff that the company’s chairman had been “mistaken” in Tuesday’s hearing, which he attended with his father Rupert.

Murdoch told the committee he was “not aware” of an email suggesting the practice of phone-hacking at the News of the World went wider than one rogue reporter.

But in a statement issued last night, former News of the World editor Colin Myler and ex-News International legal manager Tom Crone said they had informed Murdoch of the email.

Conservative MP Whittingdale said he had not yet seen the statement, but that Murdoch had already agreed to write to the committee on various points he had been unable to immediately address at the hearing.

The MP, who stressed the committee would not be recalled on the matter, said: “I’m sure if the statement suggests there’s conflict between what Colin Myler is saying and what he said, we will ask him to answer that as well.”

In a statement, Murdoch later said: “I stand by my statement to the select committee.”

The issue hinges on a settlement paid to Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor in 2008, worth a reported £700,000, after he brought a damages claim against the News of the World.

At the committee hearing, Tom Watson MP asked Murdoch: “When you signed off the Taylor payment, did you see or were you made aware of the full Neville e-mail, the transcript of the hacked voicemail messages?”

He replied: “No, I was not aware of that at the time.” He went on to say: “There was every reason to settle the case, given the likelihood of losing the case and given the damages – we had received counsel – that would be levied.”

In their statement, Myler and Crone said: “Just by way of clarification relating to Tuesday’s CMS 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.”

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