News International found 'smoking gun' e-mails in 2007


Rupert Murdoch has met Rebekah Brooks over the phone-hacking scandal

News International found e-mails in 2007 that appeared to indicate that payments were being made to the police for information, although this evidence of alleged criminal behaviour was not handed to the Metropolitan Police for investigation until 20 June of this year.

According to sources, these e-mails were in the possession of the firm of solicitors, Harbottle & Lewis.

They were retrieved from Harbottle & Lewis by lawyers acting for News Interernational and for William Lewis - general manager of News International - who is in charge of News International's clean-up of what went wrong at the News of the World (and who was recruited by News International last July).

The e-mails appear to show Andy Coulson, editor of the News of the World from 2003-2007, authorising payments to the police for help with stories.

They also appear to show that phone hacking went wider than the activities of a single rogue reporter, which was the News of the World's claim at the time.

Mr Coulson, who subsequently became David Cameron's director of communications in 10 Downing Street, was arrested and bailed last week.

In a letter presented to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee, Harbottle & Lewis confirmed that it had been asked by News International to review whether the illegal actions of Clive Goodman - the News of the World's former royal editor, jailed in 2007 for phone hacking - were known to his News of the World colleagues.

In this letter, dated 29 May 2007, and sent to Jon Chapman of News International, Lawrence Abramson of Harbottle & Lewis wrote that it had "reviewed e-mails to which you have provided access from the accounts of Andy Coulson, Stuart Kuttner, Ian Edmondson, Clive Goodman, Neil Wallis, Jules Stenson".

Mr Abramson confirmed to Mr Chapman that it "did not find anything in those e-mails which appeared to us to be reasonable evidence that Clive Goodman's illegal actions were known about and supported by both or either of Andy Coulson, the editor, and Neil Wallis, the deputy editor, and/or that Ian Edmondson, the news editor, and others were carrying out similar illegal procedures".

The letter from Mr Abramson to Mr Chapman makes no mention of whether the e-mails contain evidence of wrongdoing by journalists other than Mr Goodman.

However, when William Lewis and his fellow News International executives re-acquired those e-mails from Harbottle & Lewis, they found what they perceived to be prima facie evidence that the illegal phone hacking went wider than just the activities of Mr Goodman and that there were potentially illegal payments to the police.

William Lewis went looking for these e-mails after the Metropolitan Police of Operation Weeting, who are investigating alleged phone hacking, enquired about the existence of 2,500 e-mails that Colin Myler - who replaced Andy Coulson as editor of the News of the World - mentioned to MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport committee.

Mr Myler told the MPs these e-mails had been trawled through as part of his own inquiry into whether hacking was carried out by others than Mr Goodman.

In response to a question by the MP Philip Davies about whether Mr Goodman was working alone, Mr Myler said: "I conducted this inquiry with Daniel Cloke, our director of human resources. Over 2,500 e-mails were accessed because we were exploring whether or not there was any other evidence to suggest essentially what you are hinting at. No evidence was found; that is up to 2,500 e-mails".

William Lewis and his News International colleagues on a newly created management and standards committee have not found the full 2,500 e-mails mentioned by Mr Myler, just the sub-set of 300 that were passed to Harbottle & Lewis.

The disclosure that News International found 300 e-mails as long ago as 2007, that indicated wider malpractices at the News of the World than those which led to the jailing of Mr Goodman and of the private detective Glenn Mulcaire, will pose very difficult questions for News International's chairman, James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch.

In December 2007, James Murdoch took charge of News International as chief executive of the European and Asian operations of its parent company, News Corporation.

Some four months later, in April 2008, he authorised the payment of a substantial out-of-court settlement, running to hundreds of thousands of pounds, with Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, over the hacking of Mr Taylor's phone.

That settlement - which was agreed by Mr Murdoch and signed by News International's chief operating officer at the time, Clive Milner - contained a gagging clause, making it impossible for either party to talk about the settlement or what led to it (though many of its details were subsequently revealed by the Guardian).

Mr Murdoch has now conceded that it was wrong of him to agree to the settlement with Mr Taylor and also to other out-of-court settlements made at a similar time.

He said on Thursday: "I now know that I did not have a complete picture when I did so. This was wrong and is a matter of serious regret."

There have been allegations that Mr Murdoch, in settling with Mr Taylor, was endeavouring to put a lid on the furore to deter a wider police investigation of the News of the World's behaviour.

News International denies this.

It insists that Mr Murdoch only approved the Taylor settlement and gagging clause because he was ignorant of the alleged transgressions by other News of the World journalists.

In particular, News International says Mr Murdoch had no knowledge of the 300 e-mails that Harbottle & Lewis were asked to review.

Robert Peston Article written by Robert Peston Robert Peston Economics editor

UK living too high on the hog (again)

How worried should we be by the UK's record current account deficit, our inability to pay our way in the world?

Read full article


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    177. Vijanth Ipoh
    Can not believe it happen in UK. Sad chapter

    It's been par for the course in the UK for years, just never had a Nick Davies type journalist before.

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
    "Who will guard the guards themselves?"
    Attributed to the Roman poet Juvenal from his Satires 1st/2nd Century.
    Just goes to illustrate that nothing ever truly changes despite our sincere wishes for change to be implemented.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    Is what's being said here tantamount to implicating elements of the MET in illegal data sale to NOTW? And was this fact buried and denied by both NOTW and the MET? Well, well I suppose that old description of a paranoid person as being "one who knows what's really going on" is true. I don't think this is a surprise to those who are aware of the cynicism of the UK press and the UK police force.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    Rebekah Brooks is not only almost 'family' but also playing a valuable role as lightening conductor. The more heat she can absorb, the less pressure on James Murdoch. Take her out, and the pressure will move directly to him. Rupe is obviously protecting his son, and Rebekah is his shield.

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    Corruption of our Police is unforgivable.

    How many people have they sent to prison unjustly?

    This country is known as a fair and just place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    Time for all the good people of this world, for the sake of humanity - CUT OFF the money supply to the wealthy elites and their machinery of oppression!

    JUST Stop feeding their machine folks!

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    10th July 2011 - 17:03
    Politicians are corrupt, as are the Police, as is the media. What else is left? What we need here is a corrupt judge or two, then we would have the full set.

    Judges are lawyers.


  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    Just 'lovin' all the media talking gobs - waffling their mystic babble like a droning pointless dung beetle hum through the telebox + radio!

    Its all ifs, buts and maybe's - its all diversion, evasion and mumbled 'excuses' THEY cannot defend the indefensible - so instead the y engage in obfuscation

    Hilarious - BUT it ain't going to SAVE any of them

    Your time is us media parasites!


  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    The original investigation was done by Assistant Commissioner Andy Heyman, who then went on to a splendid career as a journalist with News International.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    Your power is all that is important now - its up to each individual!

    No more consent, no complacency, no apathy

    No forgetting, no forgiveness, no giving in, or giving it up = NO more guilty victims - no more self sacrifice for the wealthy parasitic elites

    No more turning a blind eye to the gold temples built by the incompetent at the expense of the competent.

    NO MORE!

    It ALL stops NOW

  • Comment number 188.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    What did Rupert know?

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    183. JamesBulloch
    Indeed, but us Brits like to play a game to beat the censors! The trick is to adopt a system of 'reference' to 'other' sources - or try developing a 'censor proof' language that can convey meaning without alerting the fascists! ;-)

    Its all Monty Python, Alice in Wonderland or Atlas Shrugged for me!

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    182. ship-of-fools
    I disagree - the establishment is falling apart! Everyday new revelations about diverse aspects of corruption, moral bankruptcy + unswerving incompetence EXPOSE the rot at the centre of ALL our institutions and shine a light on the fascist nature of corporations too!

    The public are increasingly left with no alternative, and none can continue to defend the indefensible!

  • Comment number 184.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    These blogs are a joke and an offense to free speech - speaking as an American with a BILL OF RIGHTS and 1st Amendment freedom of speecj.
    I noted THE FACT that NOW/News International WILL be looked at by American law enforcement for violation of the FPCA Act and the "blog moderator" (aka Grand Inquistor) removed it. Get a REAL Constitution Britain and REAL Bill of Rights; there'd be none of

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    Sadly this event won't destabilise the establishment at best it may cause a little embarrassment for a while but there will always be a plentiful supply of convenient "fall guys/persons" found who will have it all dumped upon them from a great height. But you can definitely bet it won't be an Old Etonian or even a mega wealthy magnate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    18. Toxic Tel
    10TH JULY 2011 - 14:57
    Could it be Vince Cable was right all along about Murdoch?.
    Are there any prizes for giving the correct answer to your question?

  • Comment number 180.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    Why have Murdoch and Brooks not been arrested?


Page 2 of 11



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.