A former reporter and the former legal manager for News Of The World are disputing part of James Murdoch’s Tuesday testimony before Parliament, saying he knew there were other reporters involved in the phone hacking before News Corp settled a phone hacking lawsuit by the former head of Professional Footballers’ Association.
Here’s the story:
Gordon Taylor, then the chief executive of the PFA, sued News Of The World for phone hackings that took place in 2005. In an out-of-court settlement, News Corp paid Taylor a confidential six-figure sum in 2008. Though Murdoch told Parliament the company was advised by lawyers to pay Taylor £250,000 (around $400,000), according to a report by The Guardian the total may have been closer to £600,000 (around $1 million), including legal expenses.
According to Murdoch’s testimony to Parliament, he made the deal without knowing about a piece of evidence known as the “for Neville” e-mail. The e-mail, from 2005, contained transcripts of 35 hacked phone messages from Taylor’s phone, and identified them as “the transcript for Neville.” The Guardian identified “Neville” as News Of The World reporter Neville Thurlbeck.
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When asked whether he knew about the e-mail in the hearings, Murdoch said: “No, I was not aware of that at the time.” He had previously said in a statement that he “did not have a complete picture” of the extent of the hackings when he OKed the settlement.
But Colin Myler, former editor of News of the World, and Tom Crone, former legal manager of News of the World, said in a statement on Thursday that they informed Murdoch of the “for Neville” e-mail at the time.
“Just by way of clarification relating to Tuesday’s Culture Media and Sport Select Committee hearing,” they said in a statement, “we would like to point out that James Murdoch’s recollection of what he was told when agreeing to settle the Gordon Taylor litigation was mistaken. In fact, we did inform him of the ‘for Neville’ email which had been produced to us by Gordon Taylor’s lawyers.”
If Thurlbeck was involved and Murdoch knew about it, it would undermine much of the Murdochs’ — and News International’s — defense that they thought the the phone hackings were only the work of reporter Clive Goodman. It would additionally imply that the Taylor settlement was an effort to cover up the extent of the scandal by keeping revelations about Thurlbeck out of court.
News Corp put out a statement in response, saying: “James Murdoch stands by his testimony to the select committee.”
John Whittingdale, who chairs the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, before which Murdoch testified Tuesday, put out his own statement asking for Murdoch to explain: “He is writing to the committee to clarify other matters, and I would now expect him to write to us to give us the detail on why he said what he said about the ‘for Neville’ email.”
The sprawling scandal also claimed another job on Thursday as Matt Nixson, features editor of the Sun, was fired for allegations related to the phone hackings during his time at NOTW. David Rose, Assistant News Editor for The Times, tweeted that Nixson “has been sacked over allegations of serious misconduct while he was working for the News of the World” as deputy features editor. “Understand at one time Nixson worked on #notw news desk under Ian Edmonson & Andy Coulson,” Rose tweeted.