Thursday 14 December 2017

James Murdoch may face probe on hearing evidence

James Murdoch giving
evidence to British
MPs at a hearing in
parliament on the
phone hacking
scandal on Tuesday
James Murdoch giving evidence to British MPs at a hearing in parliament on the phone hacking scandal on Tuesday

Christopher Hope

Police have been asked to investigate claims that James Murdoch knew three years ago that phone hacking at the News of the World was not confined to a single "rogue" reporter.

Tom Watson, the Labour MP, said he contacted Scotland Yard after two former senior executives at the paper publicly contradicted Mr Murdoch's evidence to the House of Commons culture media and sport committee earlier this week.

If the allegations by Colin Myler, the newspaper's former editor, and Tom Crone, the former legal manager, were correct, Mr Murdoch could face investigation for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, he said. "If their version of events is accurate, it doesn't just mean that parliament has been misled, it means the police have another investigation on their hands," Mr Watson said.

Questions

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Mr Murdoch had "questions to answer in Parliament".

Mr Murdoch, the chairman of News International, said he stood by the evidence he gave on Tuesday when he appeared with his father Rupert.

He told MPs he was unaware of an email suggesting hacking was more widespread than had been admitted when he signed off a reported £700,000 (€795,000) out-of-court settlement with Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, in 2008. On Thursday night, Mr Myler and Mr Crone said Mr Murdoch was "mistaken" and that they had informed him of the email, obtained by Mr Taylor's lawyers.

Mr Watson, a committee member, said that if Mr Myler and Mr Crone were right, Mr Murdoch would have "bought the silence" of Mr Taylor.

He said: "It shows that he not only failed to report a crime, but because there was a confidentiality clause in the settlement, it means that he bought the silence of Gordon Taylor and that could mean that he is facing investigation for perverting the course of justice."

Scotland Yard confirmed it had received a letter from Mr Watson asking detectives on the Operation Weeting inquiry into phone hacking to investigate. Mr Cameron, speaking on a visit to Warwickshire, said News International had to clear up the "mess" created. "Clearly, James Murdoch has questions to answer in parliament and I am sure that he will do that," he said. "And News International has a mess to clear up. The management of a company must be an issue for the shareholders."

The email at the centre of the controversy -- known as the "for Neville" email, apparently in reference to the chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck -- contained transcripts of hacked phone messages. It was sent on July 29, 2005, from a junior 'News Of The World' reporter to Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator. Critics say it shows that phone hacking at the paper was widespread. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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