As it happened: James Murdoch phone hacking evidence

Key points

  • News International chairman James Murdoch gives evidence for second time to Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee from 11am
  • He stands by his earlier testimony that he knew nothing about the possibility of widespread hacking at the News of the World
  • He says two former News of the World executives, Tom Crone and Colin Myler, gave "misleading" evidence to the committee
  • He says suggestions by Tom Watson MP that News International operated like the Mafia over the phone-hacking scandal are "offensive" and untrue

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    Morning and welcome to our live coverage of James Murdoch's evidence to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee. His grilling, due to get under way at 11am, is his second at the hands of MPs.


    In July, Mr Murdoch appeared alongside his father, News International chairman and chief executive Rupert. You may recall there was a custard pie involved in that hearing - the purveyor of which has since served in time in prison.


    James Murdoch is being recalled because of discrepancies between his evidence and that of two other fomer News International executives - Tom Crone and Colin Myler. Here's a run-down of some of the questions he may face. Top of the list is whether he still insists he didn't know back in 2008 that there was evidence of widespread phone hacking at the News of the World.


    A crucial piece of evidence you'll hear mentioned time and again this morning is the so-called "For Neville" email. This was sent by a News of the World journalist to private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and contains transcripts of illegally intercepted phone messages belonging to football union chief Gordon Taylor. The email suggested hacking was more widepread at the paper than was being acknowledged. Neville, by the way, is assumed to be former NoW chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck - although he denies any involvement in hacking.


    A key question is seen as being whether James Murdoch knew in 2008 about the For Neville email. He says he didn't, but former NoW lawyer Tom Crone and former editor Colin Myler insist he did.


    This was James and Rupert Murdoch before the Commons media committee back in July.

    James and Rupert Murdoch

    Media commentator Steve Hewlett told the BBC that James Murdoch may not have known about the For Neville email, but if that is the case it doesn't help his position with shareholders - why would he agree to a huge out-of-court settlement for Gordon Taylor without asking any questions, Mr Hewlett asked?


    The phone-hacking scandal has made a household name of at least one member of the Commons media committee - Labour MP Tom Watson. He has even gone as far as obtaning non-voting proxy stockholder status in News Corporation - and went to the company's recent AGM in Los Angeles to try to challenge the Murdochs.

    NPR correspondent David Folkenflik

    tweets from New York: (Murdoch's) Times of London: "James Murdoch will tell MPs he was not aware that phone hacking had spread." Will see if that satisfies them.

    Meanwhile, Political Correspondent for the Press Association James Tapsfieldtweets some advice: Wonder if James Murdoch has borrowed Wendi Deng for the day... You'd feel safer with her at your back


    There were only 12 highly-coveted spots available for journalists inside the committee room. The rest of us will be glued to the live video feed. We know James Murdoch has arrived at the building, and he should be appearing within the next few minutes.


    Here he is. James Murdoch takes his seat in front of the horseshoe of MPs. Commitee chairman and Conservative MP John Whittingdale welcomes him.


    Mr Whittingdale opens up by asking about the For Neville email and whether Mr Murdoch still asserts that he never knew of it.

    1102: Nick Robinson Political editor

    They are leaving nothing to chance this time. They are determined that there will be no chance a paper plate of foam carried by a struggling stand up comic can slip through House of Commons security before landing on a Murdoch's visage.

    When I arrived there were 4 senior police officers in a huddle outside Portcullis House discussing, I assume, how to avoid a repeat of the Murdoch pie saga. Inside the corridors were dense with uniformed officers and visitors were being body searched.

    The truth is, though, that Murdoch junior inspires nothing like the same fear, fascination or obsession as his Dad.

    1105: Robin Brant Political correspondent, BBC News

    James Murdoch is wearing a black tie, solemn. There is a distinct contrast to his last appearance. Mr Murdoch's sitting alone with four empty chairs either side of him.


    Mr Murdoch says he was given "sufficient information" to agree to a larger settlement for Gordon Taylor, but was given "no more evidence than that". He says the words "For Neville" weren't mentioned and no further advice on the extent of phone hacking at the News of the World was given to him.


    Mr Murdoch says he was aware of the existence of an email and its importance to the extent of phone hacking. But the reference to "For Neville" was not made and he was not shown, physically, any email.


    Mr Murdoch also says he wasn't shown the advice of a senior lawyer that there was evidence of a widespread culture of illegality at the newspaper.

    1107: Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News

    There's a folder of notes in front of him but, so far, James Murdoch has not referred to it. Labour MP Jim Sheridan plays good cop, addressing the witness as 'James'.


    Labour MP Jim Sheridan asks what Mr Murdoch was told about the Clive Goodman case. Goodman, you'll remember, was jailed for phone hacking while royal editor at the News of the World. Mr Murdoch says he had no discussion about Goodman when he became News International chairman. He says there was "no reason a the time to believe it was anything other than a settled matter".


    Mr Sheridan asks about reports that Rupert Murdoch was very concerned about the Clive Goodman case. James Murdoch says it's understandable that he would be concerned, but "it simply didn't come up between us".


    "The whole company is humbled by this," Mr Murdoch says. He says everyone involved in News International is trying to work out why these matters weren't handled better. "They are something I am very sorry about," he adds.

    James Murdoch

    Here's a picture from the hearing showing the public/press seating behind Mr Murdoch


    Lib Dem Adrian Sanders asks James Murdoch about the phrase "willful blindess" and whether it applies to his behaviour. He says that at no point did either he or the company suffer from that, but if there was a mistake, it was the tendency to react to criticism or allegations as hostile or motivated commercially - "We didn't reflect as dispassionately as we might have."


    Mr Murdoch says he is "very sorry" that he didn't know enough about what was going on back in 2008.


    Mr Murdoch says that if - and he stresses, if - former NoW editor turned Downing Street adviser Andy Coulson knew about widespread phone hacking, he should have told him.

    1117: Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News

    Ten minutes in the 'S' word appears from James Murdoch - "we're very sorry". Re the Lib Dem Adrian Sanders' reference to willful blindness - he's asking James Murdoch if it was his intentional strategy to insulate himself from knowledge of certain information.


    "If I'd known then what I know today" about the For Neville email, "the company would have acted differently", Mr Murdoch says. That email, you'll remember, suggested phone hacking went far beyond one "rogue" reporter as the newspaper was insisting.


    The News of the World was the smallest newspaper within the smallest part of News Corp's European and Asian business, Mr Murdoch says. He says it's "impossible to manage every single detail of a company this scale".

    1120: Robin Brant Political correspondent, BBC News

    James Murdoch definitely less legalistic in his language. Nowhere near as blunt and concise as his father, but his answers are more to the point this time round.


    Mr Whittingdale asks why News International "rubbished" an earlier report by his committee on phone hacking. Mr Murdoch says he's sorry for the "aggressive" stance the firm took - he says in hindsight, the reaction to the report was "one turning point the company could have taken".


    Here's Tom Watson, Labour MP and prominent pursuer of the phone hacking scandal. He opens by asking James Murdoch whether he's been arrested - Mr Murdoch, with a small laugh, says no.

    1122: Nick Robinson Political editor

    James Murdoch has unveiled a new line of defence. He did know that there was an email that provided what he called "sufficient information" to justify paying a very large out of court sum to Gordon Taylor but that he didn't know that it was marked "for Neville" or demonstrated that others in the company knew about hacking or that there was "any suspicion of wider wrongdoing"

    He also knew that there was legal advice - the opinion from Mr Pike of Farrer's - but says he did not see it.

    So, the plea is still ignorance. The narrative is that James Murdoch was new to News International, regarded the hacking case as in the past, had not discussed the News of the World with his father before taking the job and simply followed advice to pay more money to Gordon Taylor without, it seems, asking questions.

    So far, James Murdoch seems well briefed (he has not referred to his notes once), confident and in control. So far...


    Mr Watson asks about a memorandum prepared by News of the World lawyer Tom Crone ahead of his meeting with James Murdoch about the Gordon Taylor case. Mr Murdoch says a memorandum did exist, but it did not discuss the crucial elements of widespread criminality.


    Mr Murdoch says Mr Watson is "trying to put words in his mouth" about that memorandum.


    This bit is all about what evidence Mr Murdoch was shown before he agreed to settle the Gordon Taylor case in 2008. Mr Murdoch says he wasn't given proof, or told of any proof, that phone hacking might be widespread and that he should settle the Taylor case out of court to prevent that detail coming out in court.

    1127: Robin Brant Political correspondent, BBC News

    The pre session briefing and coaching appears to have been effective - James Murdoch has good recall of dates and specifics on memos and advice. Tom Watson v James Murdoch civil but far from friendly


    "I don't accept that at all Mr Watson," says Mr Murdoch, when it's put to him that he did have evidence of widespread phone hacking. He says he was only given enough information to justify higher damages for Gordon Taylor.


    Did you mislead this committee in your original testimony, asks Mr Watson. "No I did not," Mr Murdoch replies.

    1131: Robin Brant Political correspondent, BBC News

    That's the core of James Murdoch's defence, re-iterated again to Tom Watson; I wasn't told of, shown or informed about evidence of widespread hacking at News of the World


    "I've testified with as much transparency and clarity as I can," Mr Murdoch says. Do you think Mr Crone and Mr Myler misled us, he is asked. "It follows that I do," he says, describing their evidence as "inconsistent" and "economical". "


    Tom Crone - to keep you up to speed - was the News of the World's lawyer. Colin Myler was it's former editor - the last before the paper closed.


    "Certain individuals" were aware of evidence of widespread hacking in 2008, Mr Murdoch says, but "none of those things" were told to me.

    1139: Guardian 'g1' editor Emily Wilson

    tweets: so Murdoch's story is he knew there was 'fatal' evidence, knew about 'For Neville', but wasn't told any of the detail ...


    Mr Murdoch says that if he'd known about wider problems with more reporters at the News of the World, he would have "got rid of them all, cut out the cancer".

    1140: Robin Brant Political correspondent, BBC News

    James Murdoch on evidence given by Crone: economical, inconsistent, not right, misleading, I dispute it.


    "You're seriously asking me to accept that there was no evidence News International had made use of large numbers of illegally obtained voice messages," Mr Watson says with incredulity in his voice. "There was no mention of a culture of illegal information mentioned at that meeting?" No there was not, Mr Murdoch replies.


    There has been repeated reference to legal advice from Michael Silverleaf QC - he told News of the World executives back in 2008 that there "is or was a culture of illegal information access". Mr Murdoch has said several times he didn't see or learn of this advice - he was told, he says, that all Silverleaf's advice amounted to was that the Gordon Taylor case must be settled for a large sum.

    1144: Nick Robinson Political editor

    James Murdoch is insisting that he had no sight of, or knowledge of, the 3 critical documents which would have revealed to him that hacking was widespread at the News of the World:

    - the "For Neville" email which allegedly proved that the paper's chief reporter had transcripts of hacked phone calls

    - the Crone memo - a note from the paper's lawyer re evidence which was "fatal to our case"

    - the Silverleaf opinion - the legal advice of senior counsel that there was "a culture of illegal access" to material

    In other words, he paid damages to Gordon Taylor simply because he was advised that the company would lose in court and asked no questions about what had been uncovered.

    1149: Paul Waugh, political blogger,

    tweets: Real drama as Tom Watson reveals he has spoken to Neville Thurlbeck


    "It's clear that you're not going to answer any of my detailed questions," Mr Watson says. He says he "wasn't going to do this", but he has met Neville Thurlbeck, former NoW chief reporter, and is going to share what he told him.


    Mr Watson says Neville Thurlbeck talked to him about the For Neville email - the email that suggested widespread phone hacking at the NoW. Mr Thurlbeck says he feared NoW lawyer Tom Crone would take it to James Murdoch and he would lose his job. Mr Crone later told him he had shown Mr Murdoch the email - something, of course, Mr Murdoch denies.


    Mr Murdoch says he knows nothing about what Mr Thurlbeck has said and stands by his account.


    "You're familiar with the mafia," asks Mr Watson. "Are you familiar with the word 'omerta', the culture of silence around the mafia? Do you accept that applies to the Murdoch empire?" Mr Murdoch says no, he does not, and finds the suggestion "offensive".

    1151: The Guardian deputy editor Ian Katz

    tweets: Tom Watson reveals Thurlbeck claims Crone told him at the time that he (Crone) did show "For Neville" email to James Murdoch


    "You must be the first mafia boss in history who didn't know he was running a criminal enterprise," the Labour MP says. "Mr Watson, please..." says the News International boss as the questioning from Tom Watson ends.


    Conservative MP Damian Collins is now asking the questions - he's going back over exactly what Mr Murdoch was told when he agreed to settle the Gordon Taylor case. Mr Taylor, football union boss, was paid \u00a3425,000 out of court in 2008 after the News of the World illegally listened in to his voicemails.


    Mr Murdoch says he was told it was "open and shut" that the company would lose the case and so should settle. He says he was told there was evidence that Mr Taylor's phone had been hacked, but crucially, not told there was evidence that anyone else's had been.

    Keith, Hull

    e-mails: I find this amazing that the House of Commons Select Committee have more information than what James Murdoch can remember about his own company.

    Joss, Milton Keynes

    e-mails: The line of much of the committee's questioning is very primitive and bullish and shows no understanding of how the world works. If they spent less time trying to be clever and promote their own political careers, they might do a better job.

    Carl, London

    e-mails: Wow! There's a lot of testosterone in the room. So is it me, but should Tom Watson be allowed to now sit on the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee - he has such a personal issue against the Murdoch's?


    Mr Murdoch says he followed the advice of Tom Crone, News of the World lawyer, and Colin Myler, then its editor, about settling the Taylor case. He says he had "no reason at the time to believe they had anything other than the newspaper's best interests at heart".

    1203: Nick Robinson Political editor

    The scourge of the Murdochs, the Labour MP Tom Watson, has just launched his Exocet accusing James Murdoch of being "a mafia boss... running a criminal enterprise".

    He did not carry the room. One fellow Committee member said "oh come on" whilst others sighed or tut tutted. James Murdoch was able to bat away the charge with the words "Mr Watson. Please" but neither he nor his aides were unsettled.

    It was the verbal equivalent of the plate of foam deployed at the last hearing and is likely to have the same effect - it will steal the headlines but mask what Tom Watson and others have so doggedly revealed - that News International suppressed significant evidence of widespread illegality for more than two years.

    It may reveal Tom Watson's frustration that he could not break down James Murdoch's claim that he never saw that evidence.


    Mr Collins MP asks why Mr Murdoch didn't seek more information about why the Gordon Taylor case should be settled for such a large amount of money. The News International boss replies: "I was given strong advice to settle and I went along with that." Remember, we now know that one of the reasons for settling was that NoW lawyers feared many more damaging revelations about phone hacking would come out if the case came to court.


    Conservative Philip Davies has taken up the questioner's baton. He's asking about the advice News International received from Michael Silverleaf QC on the Taylor case. We know that Mr Silverleaf's advice went much further, suggesting there was evidence of a widespread culture of phone hacking, but Mr Murdoch insists all he knew was what the QC said about the level of damages that Gordon Taylor should get.


    Mr Davies says Mr Murdoch seems "more vague" than the last time he appeared before the committee. Mr Murdoch insists that isn't his intention and he's trying to be as clear as possible.

    Steve Robert, Halifax

    e-mails: Tom Watson's 'Mafia' comments marked the point at which a personal desperation in failing to 'get Murdoch' ended up handing him the moral high ground and totally discredits the Committee.


    The discussion is continuing around how a very big figure - some \u00a3425,000 - was decided upon for the Gordon Taylor settlement. "It all seems very cavalier, cavalier with money," MP Philip Davies says. "I used to work for Asda... I guarantee that if somebody had gone to any chief operating officer of Asda and said we're going to have to pay half a million pounds, he would have said 'My God, let me have a look at that'."

    Joanne, Lisburn

    e-mails: If nothing else, James Murdoch should be held to account for having NO idea what was going on in his own company!

    Peter, Rickmansworth

    e-mails: The Committee don't seem to have prepared as well as they could have and don't seem to have a fully coordinated approach. Shouldn't they have an agreed plan of questions and demand answers so that we can understand what really happened?


    In reply, Mr Murdoch says he authorised NoW lawyer Tom Crone and editor Colin Myler to settle within a range of \u00a3500,000 to \u00a31million. He says he was given "sufficient evidence" that such a figure was needed and he left the detail to the executives to sort out.


    How much of that settlement was to do with confidentiality, Mr Murdoch is asked. In other words, how much was it worth to keep the Gordon Taylor case - and anything wider that might stem from it - quiet? Mr Murdoch said confidentiality wasn't a specific "line item" in the settlement, but it was a natural part of these sorts of cases for all businesses.


    In his final question, Mr Davies asks whether News International now does things differently? Yes, Mr Murdoch, insists, in various ways. There is now far more concern about "compliance" with company rules, he says.

    1229: Robin Brant Political correspondent, BBC News

    The practical fallout from hacking spreads far across the Murdoch empire; James Murdoch says News Corp has recently retrained 1,000 staff in India and the firm is looking more seriously at compliance/governance/repuation risk.


    Labour MP Paul Farrelly says Colin Myler, former News of the World editor, would like to "refresh" his memory about the events around the Gordon Taylor settlement but isn't allowed access to his old office computer. He asks Mr Murdoch why he shouldn't be allowed to do that - Mr Murdoch says he could review News International procedures around that request.

    Alan Bennett

    e-mails: Game, Set and Match to Murdoch.


    "The one thing that has always stood out for us - and would have stood out to any 10-year-old - was that Gordon Taylor was not royal," says Mr Farrelly. Did that not raise questions in your mind, he asks Mr Murdoch. The reason that's important is because Mr Murdoch insists that in 2008 all he knew was that the royal editor, Clive Goodman, had hacked into phones, so why wasn't he interested in the fact that a non-royal had been targeted?


    "Are you always so incurious about the businesses you run?" Mr Farrelly asks. Mr Murdoch says he had no reason to believe that anything else was "afoot".

    Alastair Ross, Alford, Aberdeenshire

    e-mails: Why is the committee not challenging Murdoch's persistent use of softeners like "I believe"? Did he or did he not know the facts? All those references to authorisation levels are unbelievably vague.


    "The company relied for too long on assurances about the quality, thoroughness and scope of investigations" that were carried out into phone hacking, both internally and by the police, Mr Murdoch says. He says he shares responsibility for that failure.


    "There is a lot of supposition" in the evidence given by former NoW lawyer Tom Crone and editor Colin Myler, says Mr Murdoch. "A lot of, 'I would have known, they understood me to know'," he says, but neither told the committee they had actually given me hard evidence, he adds.

    Steve Heaton from Dereham, Norfolk

    emails: It's a shame that MPs seem to have no idea how businesses like News International are run. Those at the top often have to make decisions on the run and on the basis of incomplete information. And they rely on advice from senior execs and external advisers. They don't have time to pore over every little detail (and for a company like News International this issue was, at the time, not a big deal).


    Conservative MP Louise Mensch takes over questioning and asks about a review of editorial practice promised at the committee's July hearing by Rupert Murdoch. James Murdoch says it is well under way and he hopes it'll be finished by the New Year. He says one of the real lessons learned from all this is that "allowing the newsrooom to investigate itself" isn't good enough.


    How many newspapers, other than the News of the World, have been hacking phones, Mrs Mensch asks. Mr Murdoch says that matter is the subject of a criminal investigation and he can't talk about it. He says it's a matter of "great concern" that a Sun journalist has been recently arrested.


    Mrs Mensch asks about allegations of hacking by News International journalists on American soil, including the phones of 9/11 victims. Mr Murdoch says he has "no knowledge" of those allegations. "You have no knowledge," Mrs Mensch replies, "So far, you're coming up short."


    Mrs Mensch is now asking about allegations that lawyers representing phone hacking victims were put under surveillance by News International. Mr Murdoch answers: "It is appalling, it is something I would never condone and the company should never condone, it's shocking."


    "The whole affair is just not acceptable and not on," Mr Murdoch says, on the subject of surveillance. He says he "apologises unreservedly" to committee member Tom Watson who was also put under surveillance.


    Will you guarantee that, within the bounds of what the police will allow, you'll publicise every instance of nefarious behaviour at News International, Mrs Mensch asks. Mr Murdoch says the company has been as "transparent and appropriate as possible".


    Tom Watson takes up the baton again and asks about the issue of surveillance. It emerged earlier this week that a private investigator working for the News of the World targeted a wide range of public figures, including Prince William.

    Robert Peston, Business Editor for the BBC

    tweets: James Murdoch not denying that journalists at other News titles may have been engaged in phone hacking


    The hearing has now been going for more than two hours, but shows no sign of drawing to a conclusion.


    Mr Murdoch says there are some circumstances in which placing public figures under surveillance is reasonable, but does not elaborate.


    Mr Watson is listing a series of private investigators that he says have worked for the News of the World. Mr Murdoch say it's the first time he's heard most of those names, but he will look into it - he also says the use of PIs has been "seriously curtailed" recently and journalists can now only use them for a small number of legitimate purposes.


    Has News International, to date, admitted to any kind of computer or email hacking, Mr Watson asks. Mr Murdoch says he doesn't think so - he turns to ask his lawyers behind him. After a quick word, the News International boss says, "They'd like to get back to you on that."


    Mr Watson says he's been told by another News International employee that "the diktat went out" to staff, "dig up as much dirt as you can" on members of the Commons media committee. Mr Murdoch says he has no knowledge of that.


    "I wouldn't call this a failure of corporate governance," Mr Murdoch says, "I would say it was a failure of transparency." He insists that as soon as "unequivocal evidence of wrondoing" was given to him, the company moved with "vigour" to sort it out.

    1317: Robert Peston, Business Editor for the BBC

    tweets: Watson's disclosure that Thurlbeck believes J Murdoch was shown "For Neville" email seems most significant development at c'ttee today...

    1318: Robert Peston, Business Editor for the BBC

    tweets: It presumably means Crone and Myler have to be questioned again to be asked why their memory differs from Thurlbeck's.


    Steve Rotheram MP raises the issue of the Sun's coverage of the Hillsborough disaster - something which caused outrage on Merseyside because of allegations that were made against Liverpool fans. Mr Murdoch says he wants to add his apology to Sun editors' apologies in recent years over the paper's coverage at the time.

    1320: Nick Robinson Political editor

    A second Exocet but this time one that prompted an unequivocal response from James Murdoch.

    Tory MP Louise Mensch asked him whether he was aware that not only had the lawyers representing hacking victims been followed by private detectives but so too had the 14-year-old daughter of one of them.

    James Murdoch looked shocked and described this as "appalling... shocking... unacceptable"

    He went on to apologise to Committee member Tom Watson for the fact he was put under surveillance.


    Mr Rotheram asks whether, if it emerges that journalists at the Sun hacked phones, that paper will be closed down as the News of the World was. Mr Murdoch says it's "important not to prejudge" the outcome of the police investigation, but he "can't rule out" any sort of action.

    Robert Peston, Business Editor for the BBC

    tweets: James Murdoch doesn't rule out closing the Sun. Quite extraordinary


    Mr Murdoch tells Therese Coffey MP that the number of people who can make cash payments for stories has been greatly tightened up. Police are, of course, investigating allegations that News International paid officers for information.


    Paul Farrelly MP is asking about a reported \u00a31million payment made to publicist Max Clifford after he sued over phone-hacking. He's also not "royal", Mr Farrelly asks, so did you not ask questions about that? He says, "I've got this Australian voice rattling round in the back of my head, saying, 'How much is this Glenn Mulcaire going to cost me?'" The Australian Mr Farrelly is referring to is Rupert Murdoch. His son James says he wasn't substantively involved in the Clifford case.


    Mr Farrelly is now asking about the fact that News International paid the legal fees of the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. Mr Mulcaire was jailed in 2007 along with royal editor Clive Goodman for phone hacking. Mr Murdoch says that if Mr Mulcaire was "an agent on behalf of the business", there is a "vicarious liability" there for his company.


    News International has stopped paying Mr Mulcaire's legal fees, but has said it will cover any damages awarded against him. "You will be supporting the man who hacked Milly Dowler's phone," Mr Farrelly says. Mr Murdoch says he doesn't accept that characterisation of the situation.


    With that, the hearing wraps up. Two hours and 37 minutes after he sat down, James Murdoch leaves the room.

    Robert Peston, Business Editor for the BBC

    tweets: That was the Tom Watson versus James Murdoch show. Watson won on points?


    Reaction to the session from Steven Barnett, from the University of Westminster, who says he is not convinced Mr Murdoch has come away with a "huge amount of credibility". "How could he not have been more curious about being asked to condone \u00a31m pay-off to Max Clifford? What emerges is a sense of incompetence, not really being in charge, rather than someone who is misleading the committee," the professor of communications tells the BBC News Channel.


    John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons culture committee, says it is already apparent there are direct contradictions between James Murdoch's account and Colin Myler and Tom Crone accounts.


    He says the committee would now consider the evidence it has heard and prepare its report. He says no conclusion has been reached yet by the committee. On James Murdoch's evidence, Mr Whittingdale says: "Mr Murdoch did do his best to give a full account to the committee - he didn't attempt not to answer questions."


    Mr Whittingdale appeared to rule out any further sessions on phone hacking. Asked whether he thought Tom Watson went too far when he likened News International to the mafia, he said: "Tom Watson has been pursuing the matter for a long time."


    Asked when the committee report could be expected, Mr Whittingdale said it was a "very complicated matter and we have received a lot of evidence" so it is going to take us "some time". He said the report could be presented to the House of Commons by the end of the year. It would then be a matter for the House to decide whether any sanctions were needed, he added.


    Martin Moore, founder of the Hacked off campaign, said Mr Murdoch appeared to be in an "increasingly precarious position". He said no "smoking gun" emerged during the hearing but he said there were an increasing number of people saying the information was there - which is counter to what Mr Murdoch has been saying.


    Mr Moore praised the MPs for their forensic approach, saying they went through the specifics highlighting the number of occasions it would have been possible for Mr Murdoch to have found out the extent of phone hacking at the paper. When lined up like that, it was "quite compelling", he added.


    James Murdoch has to "fall on his sword", former News International executive Jack Irvine told Sky News, so that would then "ringfence Sky". "While he stays, he contaminates your brand," he warned. "Even if we accept that he didn't know, he should have known. If he was executive chairman, he should have been very au fait with serious matters like that."


    Labour MP Tom Watson, who sat on the committee, admitted it was plausible Mr Murdoch did not know about the scale of the payouts to the likes of Gordon Taylor. "He's between the devil and the deep blue sea - either he wasn't doing his job properly or he did know," he said.


    While the committee hearing was taking place, it emerged just how enormous the inquiry into phone hacking has become. New Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, has told journalists that more than 100 officers are now working their way through some 300 million emails.


    The BBC's political correspondent Robin Brant has given his verdict on how James Murdoch did in his Commons grilling. He reckons Mr Murdoch might have come close to clearing his name when it comes to any suggestion of involvement in a cover-up around phone hacking - but he did not emerge as a boss with a very good grip on his company.


    If all this has whetted your appetite, you can read more about how the phone-hacking scandal has unfolded in our timeline. If it's left you a bit baffled - and let's face it, it's complicated - hopefully our Q&A will make things clearer.


    Next Monday, the Leveson Inquiry - which is set to examine the culture, practices and ethics of the press - will formally get going. It's already held a number of preliminary seminars at which former and current newspaper editors and executives have appeared. Leveson, you'll remember, was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron at the height of the scandal surrounding the News of the World earlier this year.


    Right, we're going to wrap up our live coverage here. Thanks very much for joining us and for all your contributions. You can get more reaction to today's hearing on the BBC News Channel and BBC radio.


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