Former News of the World editor Colin Myler and ex News Group Newspapers legal chief Tom Crone reiterated claims that James Murdoch was told about a damning email that undermined the company’s “rogue reporter” defence against phone-hacking.
Crone said he was ‘certain’he had informed Murdoch about the existence of the email – an allegation the former News International chief executive denied when he appeared before the culture select committee in July.
The ‘For Neville’email appears to implicate former NoW chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck in phone-hacking– and appeared to rubbish NI’s claim that the scandal was limited to “rogue reporter” Clive Goodman, the NoW’s former royal correspondent who was jailed in 2007.
It contained a transcript of a hacked message left on the mobile phone of Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor.
Appearing before MPs today, Crone said he discussed the email with Murdoch during a fifteen-minute meeting held in 2008 that was also attended by Myler.
The ex-NoW editor confirmed that the email, and its implications, had been discussed during the meeting.
Crone was hazy when it came to discussing the details of the discussion, however, insisting that he could not ‘remember the conversation and there isn’t a note of it… It was discussed, but exactly what was said I can’t remember”.
Crone said the email was handed to the company by the Metropolitan Police after it was seized from private investigator Glenn Mulcaire – and was the reason NI decided to settle its claim with Taylor, who was eventually paid around £1m.
Crone claimed that a confidentiality agreement contained within the settlement had been insisted on by Taylor’s lawyers and agreed to by NI.
He denied claims by Labour MP Tom Watson that the confidentiality agreement was written into the settlement in order to ‘cover up’the true extent of phone-hacking at the NoW.
Instead, he insisted that the ‘priority at the time was to settle this case and contain the situation”, as there were four other potential litigants.
Crone today admitted that the ‘For Neville” email ‘was clear evidence that phone-hacking was taking place beyond Clive Goodman”, adding: ‘It was the reason we had to settle the case and in order to settle the case, we had to explain the case to Mr Murdoch and get his authority to settle, so clearly it was discussed.”
In a statement released after the appearance of Rupert and James Murdoch at the select committee in July, Crone and Myler released a joint statement saying they had informed James Murdoch of the email, who later issued a statement claiming he stood by the evidence he had given to the committee.