Former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman has claimed that phone-hacking was 'widely discussed'at news conferences until then editor Andy Coulson banned any further mention of the practice.
The claim was made in a cache of documents released by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee this afternoon. Among them is a letter from Goodman addressed to News International's director of human resources Daniel Cloke, written one month after he was sacked following his conviction for phone-hacking in February 2007.
In the letter, which was written in support of his appeal for wrongful dismissal, he alleged that senior executives had offered to give his job back if he remained silent and did not implicate others in the scandal.
'Tom Crone and the editor promised on many occasions that I could come back to a job at the newspaper if I did not implicate the paper or any of its staff in my mitigation plea,'he said. "I did not, and I expect the paper to honour its promise to me."
Goodman also claimed that 'my conviction and imprisonment cannot be the real reason for my dismissal", adding that Crone 'attended virtually every meeting of my legal team and was given full access to the Crown Prosecution Service's evidence files".
'He, and other senior staff of the paper, had long advance knowledge that I would plead guilty," he said. "Despite this, the paper continued to employ me. Throughout my suspension, I was given book serialisations to write and was consulted on several occasions about royal stories they needed to check. The paper continued to employ me for a substantial part of my custodial sentence."
The Goodman letter was included in the submission released by Harbottle and Lewis, the law firm instructed to assist News International in handling Goodman's appeal against dismissal. The same letter was submitted by News International but was so heavily redacted that it contained no refence to "daily editorial conference" and "the editor".
Other documents release today revealed that Goodman was paid a full year's salary of £90,502.08 plus a further £140,000 in compensation and £13,000 to cover legal bills when his unfair dismissal case was settled. News International executives had previously told the select committee that Goodman had received around £60,000 after his departure from the company.
It has also been revealed today that Glenn Mulcaire was given a pay-off of £80,000 plus £5,000 in legal fees by News International in June 2007.
In correspondence dating from the time of Goodman's appeal supplied to MPs by News International, Goodman named a number of individuals at the News of the World who he said had knowledge of phone-hacking.
A letter from law firm Harbottle and Lewis to News International on 25 May, 2007, revealed that it had trawled through the email accounts of six named individuals and found no evidence to support Goodman's claims. The names have been redacted from the documents.
News Corp Europe and Asia boss James Murdoch revealed in his letter to MPs, released today, that the company had paid £246,000 in legal fees to lawyers acting for Glenn Mulcaire to help him defend civil actions for breach of privacy.