The employment tribunal hearing the case of sacked News of the World sports writer Matt Driscoll accused deputy managing editor Paul Nicholas of “lying” in his evidence.
Driscoll has won his case for unfair dismissal after he was sacked in April 2007 whilst on long-term sick leave.
Nicholas was one of a number of NoW editorial managers to give evidence to the Stratford tribunal this summer.
During the hearing he was asked if he knew if any disciplinary action had been brought against chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck over his involvement in the Max Mosley orgy story – to which he replied that he did not know.
The tribunal said in its judgment: “We do not believe Mr Nicholas’s professed ignorance.”
It added: “It would have been a point in their favour if they had been able to say that he [Thurlbeck] had been disciplined for his conduct in the matter. We consider, and find, that Mr Nicholas’s response was more than disingenuous. He was, to put it plainly, lying to us in this part of his evidence.”
In July this year the News of the World was ordered to pay £60,000 in damages to Formula One boss Max Mosley after the High Court ruled that it had invaded his privacy by publishing photos and video of him taking part in an extra marital orgy with five dominatrices.
Mr Justice Eady said in his judgment that the NoW was wrong to describe the orgy as “Nazi” in flavour.
And in his judgment he was critical of chief reporter Thurlbeck, saying saying the paper would have been better able to prove that its bugging of Mosley’s Chelsea flat was justified in the public interest if Thurlbeck was able to provide notes of conversations with his source “Woman E”.
Eady said: ‘The problem is naturally compounded by the absence of any contemporaneous notes of the conversations he purports to record. There are undoubtedly inconsistencies, which make it very difficult to decide how much can be relied upon.”
But he added that he believed that NoW editor Colin Myler and Thurlbeck acted in good faith, saying: ‘I am prepared to accept that Mr Thurlbeck and Mr Myler, on what they had seen, thought there was a Nazi element – not least because that is what they wanted to believe.”
The judgment came out during the Driscoll trbiunal hearing.