News Corp Europe and Asia boss James Murdoch has continued to insist that he was unaware in 2008 about the existence of an email which proved complicity in phone-hacking was more widespread at the News of the World.
The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee today published a letter in which Murdoch responded to follow-up questions arising from his testimony to the committee about phone-hacking on 19 July.
That day he said he was not aware in 2008 of the existence of an email which proved phone-hacking was more widespread at the News of the World than previously admitted by the company.
On 21 July this year, that testimony was contradicted by former News of the World editor Colin Myler and former head lawyer for the paper Tom Crone. They said they had made Murdoch aware of the ‘For Neville’email in 2008.
In his letter to the committee James Murdoch stood by his testimony saying that he was briefed by Crone and Myler on 10 June 2008 about the reasons why a legal action for breach of privacy relating to phone-hacking brought by Gordon Taylor would have to be settled.
Murdoch said in the letter, made public today: ‘I have no recollection of ‘Thurbeck’ or a ‘for Neville’ email. Neither Mr Myler nor Mr Crone told me that wrongdoing extended beyond Mr Goodman or Mr Mucaire. There was nothing discussed in that meeting that led me to believe that further investigation was necessary.”
But Crone said in his letter to MPs, also released today, that he believes he did inform James Murdoch of the existence of the ‘for Neville’email at that meeting. Although, he said he would not have referred to it in those terms.
He said: ‘Since the ‘for Neville’ email was the sole reason for settling, and therefore, for the meeting, I have no doubt that I informed Mr Murdoch of its existence, of what it was and where it came from. I do not recall if I produced it and showed him a copy of it…
‘From memory I would have described it as a transcript of voicemail messages left by or for Gordon Taylor.”
The email proved complicity in hacking was more widespread at the News of the World because it implicated the journalist who wrote up the voicemail transcripts and the journalist it was addressed to.
In his letter to committee chairman John Whittingdale MP, Crone denied that he and Colin Myler had misled MPs when they appeared before them in 2009 – by suggesting that voicemail hacking was confined to Goodman and Mulcaire. He insists that he and Myler made clear to MPs the significance of the email (that hacking was more widespread at the paper) at the time.
Crone revealed that he and Colin Myler put out a statement last month contradicting James Murdoch’s evidence because they were led to believe that The Guardian and other newspapers were going to report that they had concealed the existence of the incriminating email from Murdoch.
He said: ‘For that reason and that reason alone I felt I had to clarify publicly that Mr Murdoch’s recollection on this narrow point was mistaken.”