Evidence of cover-up in hacking scandal emerges
NEWS International was accused yesterday of orchestrating a four-year cover up over phone hacking after the release of a damning letter from the 'News of the World's former royal editor.
Clive Goodman warned executives after he was jailed in 2007 that hacking had been "fully supported" by the tabloid's editors, including Andy Coulson, who later became an adviser to David Cameron.
In the letter, released by MPs, Goodman claimed that Mr Coulson had banned discussion of the practice in news conferences. The reporter wrote that he had struck a deal to keep his job if he did not "implicate" other members of staff.
Senior figures from News International have repeatedly told MPs that phone hacking was restricted to a "single rogue reporter" and insisted that no one else at the company condoned the illegal practice.
James Murdoch, the chairman of News International, faced calls for his resignation over claims that he misled MPs before a parliamentary committee last month.
Goodman's letter, among documents from News International's lawyers, called into question the firm's publicly stated commitment to be open and co-operative with inquiries into the phone-hacking scandal.
A copy of the Goodman letter previously provided to a parliamentary committee was altered to remove the key paragraphs on the secret deal and the suggestion that Mr Coulson was aware of phone hacking, MPs disclosed.
The full letter only emerged because a version without the redactions was provided to Harbottle&Lewis, a law firm previously employed by News International.
The Commons culture and media select committee yesterday ordered several former News of the World executives to appear before MPs next month to clarify their previous evidence. MPs were also expected to recall James Murdoch.
News International sources said that the offending paragraphs had been removed following discussions with detectives investigating phone hacking at the tabloid.
Goodman's letter was released alongside hundreds of new documents which MPs said provided "explosive" information on News International's knowledge of phone hacking.
Tom Watson, the Labour MP who has led the campaign to expose the scandal, described the latest claims as "devastating" and said they suggested previous evidence given by Mr Coulson to the parliamentary committee was "at best misleading and deceptive".
The latest documents also included statements from Colin Myler, the former 'News of the World' editor, and Tom Crone, the paper's former lawyer, who said they warned James Murdoch in a meeting in June 2008 that there may be evidence that phone hacking was not restricted to Goodman. (© Daily Telegraph, London)