The Culture Committee has asked former News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck to enter in as evidence a piece he wrote for Press Gazette on the hacking scandal.
The article will contribute to their deliberations as they decide whether or not News International boss James Murdoch misled MPs by claiming he was not told that hacking was more widespread at the News of the World during a crucial meeting held with then editor Colin Myler and legal chief Tom Crone in May 2008.
Thurlbeck was previously asked to give evidence to the Culture Committee when it first investigated the hacking scandal in 2009. They then declined to hear him because he asked to do so in private.
The committee has now asked Thurlbeck to enter into evidence information about the matters discussed in his Press Gazette article of 16 November.
Thurlbeck’s name has been central to the hacking scandal since July 2009 when The Guardian revealed the existence of document headed up ‘transcript for Neville’of voicemail messages which had been hacked by the News of the World.
In his piece for Press Gazette, Thurlbeck revealed how – in the wake of The Guardian story – he produced a dossier of evidence which he claims proves his innocence and implicates the guilty parties.
Thurlbeck said that his dossier was suppressed by News International executives.
Perhaps most crucially, Thurlbeck said he believed James Murdoch when he told MPs that he was ignorant of the ‘For Neville’email proving that involvement in phone-hacking was more widespread at the NoW.
MPs have heard differing evidence on this point from Myler and Crone – who insist that James Murdoch was informed about the email and its significance – and from Murdoch, who denies this was the case.
Thurlbeck said in the article: ‘Do I believe James Murdoch when he says he was never informed of the ‘transcript for Neville’ email? I do.
‘This may seem odd from a man who wants to kick his pants for unfairly dismissing him after 21 years of loyal service. A man who defended him and his father around the dinner tables of London when confronted with ideological baggage carriers like Watson for 21 years. A man who won them a host of awards and was rewarded with the bullet. Without even a hearing.
‘I feel like booting him into the Thames and firing foam pies at his dad from a very large cannon. But as you can see, there was a pattern of withholding vital information from James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks.
‘And the same pattern which led to James Murdoch’s oblivion to phone-hacking also led to my dismissal, the closure of the paper and the loss of nearly 300 jobs.”
In a statement, Thurlbeck’s lawyers DWF said: ‘As you are aware, we have been retained by Neville Thurlbeck in respect of his extant litigation against that News Group Newspapers Limited for unfair dismissal and whistleblowing.
“I can confirm the CMS Committee’s request to my client to provide written evidence further to their review of his recent Press Gazette article. We are currently in the process of advising our client on such request.
“Our client vigorously denies the allegations for which he was arbitrarily dismissed without any due or fair procedure. We are also confident that from the evidence available to date that our client’s dismissal will be found by the Tribunal to be unfair.
“In view of the extant litigation, Mr Thurlbeck will be making no further statements to the press at this time beyond this statement and we will not be able to respond to individual press queries.”