James Murdoch evidence questioned by former executives

 

Tom Watson MP questions James Murdoch about whether he was aware of the email

Evidence on phone hacking given to MPs by News International chairman James Murdoch has been called into question by two former executives at the firm.

Mr Murdoch told the culture committee he had not been "aware" of an email suggesting the practice went wider than a "rogue" News of the World reporter.

But ex-NoW editor Colin Myler and ex-NI legal manager Tom Crone have now said they "did inform" him of the email.

Mr Murdoch later said he "stands by his testimony" to the committee on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the BBC has learned the FBI plans to contact actor Jude Law following claims his mobile phone was hacked during a visit to the US.

It is alleged a story published by the News of the World in 2003 was based on information obtained from his voicemail which, if proved, could lead to charges in the US because his phone would have been operating on a US network. News International denies the claims.

In another development on Thursday, it emerged Sun features editor Matt Nixson had been sacked from the paper in relation to an investigation into the time he was at the News of the World.

The management and standards committee of News Corporation, the parent company of News International, confirmed it had "terminated the contract of a member of staff in relation to his previous work".

The committee said while it was authorised to co-operate fully with all investigations it was also conducting its own enquiries where relevant.

Written response

Regarding the emails, in April 2008, Mr Murdoch authorised the payment of an out-of-court settlement of more than £600,000 to Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, over the hacking of his phone.

He has said at the time he did not know the full extent of hacking that may have been going on at the News of the World.

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There has been a potentially important development in respect of who knew what and when”

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The paper's royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire had both been jailed for hacking into phones of the royal household in 2007.

But the email in question was marked "for Neville" and is said to have implied the News of the World's chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck was also implicated in malpractices.

Commons culture, media and sport committee chairman John Whittingdale said the committee would ask Mr Murdoch to clarify what he had said on the matter as part of a written response containing additional information that he has already promised to provide.

BBC business editor Robert Peston described the pronouncements as a potentially important development in respect of who knew what and when.

At the committee hearing on Tuesday, Labour's Tom Watson asked Mr Murdoch: "When you signed off the Taylor payment, did you see or were you made aware of the full Neville email, the transcript of the hacked voicemail messages?"

Mr Murdoch replied: "No, I was not aware of that at the time".

He went on: "There was every reason to settle the case, given the likelihood of losing the case and given the damages - we had received counsel - that would be levied."

In their statement, Mr Myler and Crone said: "Just by way of clarification relating to Tuesday's CMS select committee hearing, 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."

In a statement issued by News Corporation, Mr Murdoch said: "I stand by my testimony to the select committee."

 

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