British Parliament will recall News Corporation’s James Murdoch to testify regarding claims by former News International employees that he misled the culture, media and sport select committee during his initial testimony in July.
The committee voted on Tuesday to recall Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, and deputy CEO of News Corp. The said his appearance could be scheduled in November, though there is no official date set.
“We’re inviting him back,” said Labour MP Tom Watson. “We feel we should hear from Les Hinton and a couple of the lawyers before James Murdoch, so realistically we are talking about November.”
Hinton is the former Chief Executive of News International, who in 2007 and 2009 denied to Parliament that he had knowledge of the hackings. He stepped down from his posts as CEO of Dow Jones and publisher of the Wall Street Journal, both News Corp holdings, in July.
The Guardian reports that a News Corp spokesman said: “We await details of the committee’s request, however James Murdoch is happy to appear in front of the committee again to answer any further questions members might have.”
The recall relates to testimony last week by former NOTW legal manager Tom Crone and former editor Colin Myler, about the time in 2008 when News Corp paid then-chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association Gordon Taylor a confidential six-figure out-of-court settlement. Taylor had sued NOTW for phone hackings that had taken place in 2005.
Crone and Myler claim that before the settlement was made, they informed James Murdoch of a 2005 document known as the “for Neville” e-mail that contained transcripts of 35 hacked phone messages from Taylor’s phone, and identified them as “the transcript for Neville.” The Guardian identified “Neville” as then-News Of The World reporter Neville Thurlbeck.
Crone said last week that he is “certain” he informed Murdoch of the e-mail in a 15-minute meeting with Myler and Murdoch before the settlement was made, where he made clear what the e-mail “was about” and “what it meant.”
The e-mail implicates Thurlbeck in the hackings, and seems to contradict News International and Murdoch’s claims that the hackings were believed to be limited to reporter Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who were both convicted of the phone hackings. If Murdoch did know about the e-mail, it also implies that the Taylor settlement was an effort to cover up the extent of the scandal by keeping revelations about Thurlbeck out of court.
“Up to then there was no evidence that News of the World were implicated. The first I saw of that was that was the ‘for Neville’ email which reached us in spring 2008. We went to see Mr. Murdoch and it was explained to him what this document was and what it meant,” Crone said.
He added: “The imperative or the priority at the time was to settle this case, get rid of it, contain the situation as far as four other litigants were concerned and get on with our business.”
Murdoch was asked about the e-mail in his July 20th testimony before Parliament: “No, I was not aware of that at the time.”
In a statement, Murdoch maintained that he did not know about the e-mail: “Neither Mr. Myler nor Mr. Crone told me that wrongdoing extended beyond Mr. Goodman or Mr. Mulcaire.”
He added: “As I said in my testimony, there was nothing discussed in the meeting that led me to believe that a further investigation was necessary.”