News Corp.’s James Murdoch probably will be recalled to the U.K. Parliament to answer more questions about phone-hacking allegations at the company’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid amid new revelations.
The Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee today examined new responses from former News Corp. employees and found “devastating revelations,” said Labor Party lawmaker Tom Watson, who sits on the committee.
The lawmakers still found differences in the statements on how much senior News Corp. executives knew about the scope of phone hacking.
Tom Crone, the News of the World legal manager, and Colin Myler, its one-time editor, are likely to be recalled in September to answer further questions, said John Whittingdale, who chairs the committee. The lawmakers are also likely to recall James Murdoch, who would appear after Crone and Myler, he said. The committee won’t recall James’ father, Rupert, the chief executive officer of News Corp.
James Murdoch told lawmakers last month that he hadn’t realized until late 2010 that phone hacking was widespread at News Corp.’s News of the World. That’s been contradicted by Crone and Myler, who said they informed him in 2008 about an email that suggested more reporters had been involved, leading lawmakers to demand new responses to explain the inconsistency.
The committee had asked James Murdoch, former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks, Crone, Myler, former News International lawyer Jonathan Chapman, and Harbottle & Lewis LLP, a law firm that was tasked by the company with investigating initial charges of phone hacking in 2007, to provide new responses. The responses will be published today, Whittingdale said today.
Meanwhile, former Royal reporter Clive Goodman said in a letter written four years ago that phone hacking was discussed widely at News of the Worlde ditorial meetings.
Goodman, the reporter who was blamed as the sole culprit, said in a letter that the Guardian published on Tuesday that hacking was openly discussed until the then-editor Andy Coulson banned it.
Coulson, who repeatedly had denied all knowledge of the practice, went on to become the official spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron, a move which dragged the affair into the political arena and forced the government to turn on Rupert Murdoch after years of courting his favour.
Goodman, who was jailed in 2007 along with private detective Glenn Mulcaire, said he had been told he could keep his job if he agreed not to implicate the newspaper.
Allegations of widespread hacking at News Corp's British newspaper arm, and in particular reports that journalists had used investigators to hack in to the voicemails of murder victims, sparked an uproar in Britain that dominated global headlines for almost the whole of July.
It forced the company to close the 168-year-old paper, drop its most important acquisition in decades — the $12 billion purchase of BSkyB — and accept the resignation of two of its most senior newspaper executives.
Two of Britain's most senior police officers also quit over their failure to properly investigate the scandal and 12 people have since been arrested.
James and Rupert Murdoch appeared before the committee on July 19 and were pressed to explain their understanding of phone-hacking and payments made to the police by the tabloid.
The 38-year-old News Corp. deputy chief operating officer has said he stands by his testimony.
The issue in dispute is how much James Murdoch knew about the hacking, in particular the scale of the problem, and whether he was involved in a cover up.
Murdoch said he had not been in possession of all the facts when he approved a large payout in 2008 to English soccer executive Gordon Taylor, whose phone was hacked.
Critics have argued that the size of the payout, which was 10 times the record amount awarded in a privacy case at the time, was intended to buy Taylor's silence.