UK

Phone-hacking scandal: Les Hinton 'not untruthful' to MPs

  • 24 October 2011
  • From the section UK

News International's former executive chairman has rejected suggestions company executives have been "untruthful" with MPs on phone hacking.

Les Hinton accepted previous evidence suggesting the practice was restricted to one reporter had proven inaccurate.

But he said a letter - copied to him - alleging it was widespread had not constituted "firm evidence".

There was "no reason" for his successor James Murdoch to resign, he added. MPs will re-examine Mr Murdoch next month.

He will reappear before the Commons culture committee on 10 November.

Chairman John Whittingdale had indicated he wanted to bring the current executive chairman back for questioning after hearing conflicting evidence about how much he knew about the extent of hacking at the News of the World.

Its former legal manager Tom Crone told MPs he was "certain" he told Mr Murdoch about an email which indicated phone hacking at the paper went beyond ex-royal correspondent Clive Goodman.

Together with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, Goodman was jailed in 2007 for eavesdropping on voicemail messages.

'Acted responsibly'

Meanwhile, another former legal adviser, Julian Pike, said News International was told in 2008 that three journalists other than Mr Goodman were involved in phone hacking.

Mr Hinton, who worked for the company for more than 50 years, had been recalled for questioning about a letter written by Goodman to News International after he was dismissed.

In the letter, published on the committee's website, he alleged the practice of phone hacking was widespread at the News of the World.

Mr Hinton acknowledged having seen the letter in 2007.

But he denied misleading the committee at a previous appearance in 2009 when he said there was "never any firm evidence provided or suspicion provided" of more than one NoW reporter being involved in hacking.

"I didn't regard Mr Goodman's letter as evidence," said Mr Hinton.

"We acted, I think, very responsibly to what Mr Goodman had claimed and at the end of it, we discovered no basis to what he was claiming, so I think therefore my statement is valid."

News International has since reached out-of-court settlements with a string of people who claimed their phones had been hacked.

This includes one believed to be in the region of £2m to the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler whose phone was hacked for the News of the World after she went missing in 2002.

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