The News of the World‘s chief reporter was accused today of involvement in phone-hacking.
Transcripts of intercepted calls were prepared for Neville Thurlbeck, the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee was told.
Guardian journalist Nick Davies made the allegation as he gave evidence to the MPs investigating the issue.
Davies handed over an email including a typed record of voicemail messages exchanged between Professional Football Association boss Gordon Taylor and his legal adviser.
The missive was apparently sent in June 2005 by a member of the News of the World’s staff, from a company account, to private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was later jailed for hacking phone messages.
The email stated: “This is a transcript for Neville.”
Davies said that was a clear reference to Thurlbeck, although he accepted that none of the material involved was ever used in a story.
Davies claimed to have the names of 27 other reporters from the News of the World, and four from sister paper The Sun, who he said were implicated in the row.
News International, the News of the World’s parent company, is said to have paid out £1 million to settle civil damages cases brought by Taylor and other alleged targets.
Davies said: “I think it is very hard to resist the conclusion that News International has been involved in covering up their journalists’ involvement with private investigators who were breaking the law.
“It is very worrying that Scotland Yard do not appear to have always done as much as they could have done to stop this.”
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger also told the MPs that the News of the World had been mounting an “aggressive campaign” to discredit his newspaper’s story on the phone-hacking allegations.
In a leader column on Sunday the News of the World said that the Guardian’s reporting of phone-hacking allegations was “inaccurate, selective and purposely misleading”.
A spokesman for the News of the World declined to comment on the latest allegations.
The newspaper has previously insisted there is no fresh evidence that its journalists were involved in phone-hacking.
Its former royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, was jailed along with Mr Mulcaire in 2007 after the phone messages of royal aides and celebrities were accessed.
Andy Coulson also quit as News of the World editor after admitting ultimate responsibility for the hacking – although he denied any knowledge of what had been going on. He is now Tory leader David Cameron’s key communications aide.
Davies said he had not seen any evidence that Mr Coulson knew of the phone-hacking, although he said other executives were directly involved in authorising payments to Mulcaire.