Updates from inside James Murdoch hearing

Update 1.15pm: 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

Update 12.03pm: 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.

Update 11.42am: James Murdoch is insisting that he had no sight of, or knowledge of, the three 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.

Update 11.21am: 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...

Update 11.01am: 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.

Thursday 10.30am, Houses of Parliament: A quick break from musing on the end of the world to return to the end of the News of the World.

I'm off to watch Murdoch minor in the proverbial dock again on the question of what he knew about phone hacking in the company he was meant to be running.

For those who are not hacking nerds, here's a guide to what today's appearance before MPs on the Commons culture, media and sport committee is all about.

James Murdoch insists that he didn't know that phone hacking at the News of the World extended way beyond the royal reporter Clive Goodman, who was jailed for it.

...Despite mounting evidence that others in the company did know.

...Despite agreeing a huge out-of-court settlement to Gordon Taylor of the Professional Footballers' Association which many believe was meant to silence him and to conceal evidence of widespread hacking.

...Despite the fact that Tom Crone, the News of the World's former legal manager, has previously told the culture committee that he had explained to Murdoch that the large settlement was necessary as there was evidence of other hacking.

...Despite the "For Neville" email which appears to show that the paper's chief reporter - Neville Thurlbeck - was sent transcripts of the hacking of Taylor. So, in other words, someone other than Clive Goodman knew about it.

....Despite the fact that one of News International's former lawyers, Julian Pike of the Queen's solicitors Farrers, has testified that he warned the company that there was evidence of widespread hacking.

So, either James Murdoch has to continue to plead ignorance, opening himself to the charge that he's the sort of guy who writes massive cheques without knowing why or asking questions which could and should have revealed what had really been going on.

Or he admits that he did know, he lied earlier and had covered it all up.

I think I know which he'll do, but the way in which he explains why he was ignorant of it all should be revealing.