James Murdoch has denied claims he was shown an incriminating email in 2008 which suggested phone-hacking was widespread at the News of the World.
Former NoW editor Colin Myler and ex-News Group Newspapers legal chief Tom Crone today told the culture select committee they had discussed the controversial ‘For Neville’email with Murdoch during a fifteen-minute meeting in 2008.
The email, which featured the transcript of a hacked message left on the mobile phone of Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor, appeared to implicate former NoW chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck in the phone-hacking scandal as well as the journalist who wrote it up.
Crone claimed that after Murdoch was told about the email he gave him the go-ahead to agree a settlement with Taylor, who was suing the tabloid.
News International hit back this afternoon by issuing a statement in which it dismissed the pair’s evidence as ‘unclear and contradictory”.
Commenting on the Gordon Taylor settlement, Murdoch said his recollection of the meeting was ‘absolutely clear and consistent’and that his testimony before the culture committee in July was ‘an accurate account of events”.
‘I was told by Mr Crone and Mr Myler when we met, in that short meeting, that the civil litigation related to the interception of Mr Taylor’s voicemails to which Mulcaire had pleaded guilty the previous year,’he said.
‘I was informed, for the first time, that there was evidence that Mulcaire had carried out this interception on behalf of the News of the World.
‘It was for this reason alone that Mr Crone and Mr Myler recommended settlement. It was in this context that the evidence was discussed.’
He continued: ‘They did not show me the email, nor did they refer to Neville Thurlbeck. Neither Mr Myler nor Mr Crone told me that wrongdoing extended beyond Mr Goodman or Mr Mulcaire.
‘As I said in my testimony, there was nothing discussed in the meeting that led me to believe that a further investigation was necessary.”
Earlier today Crone said he was ‘certain’he had informed Murdoch about the email, a claim backed up by Myler, although he said it would not have been called the “For Neville” email as it has subsequently been described.
Crone said that the email was ‘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”.