6 Sep 2011

James Murdoch ‘told about phone hacking email’

The former News of the World legal manager tells MPs he is “certain” he told James Murdoch about an email which proved that knowledge of phone-hacking went beyond one rogue reporter.

Former Now executives face MPs over phone hacking (Getty)

Mr Murdoch, who at the time was chief executive of NoW publishers News International, has previously told the Commons Culture Media and Sport Committee he was not aware of the notorious “for Neville” document.

On Tuesday he issued another statement saying he stood by his testimony.

The “for Neville” email contradicts the company’s stance that hacking was the fault of a single rogue reporter – former royal correspondent Clive Goodman.

Giving evidence to the Commons CMS committee, former NI legal manager Tom Crone said he informed Mr Murdoch about the document – a transcript of hacked private information about Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor – in a 15-minute meeting, also attended by then NoW editor Colin Myler in 2008.

However, he said he could not remember whether he had shown him a copy of the email.

It was at that meeting that James Murdoch authorised him to reach a settlement with Mr Taylor, who was eventually paid £425,000, the committee heard.

A phone hacking timeline

In a statement James Murdoch said:”My recollection of the meeting regarding the Gordon Taylor settlement is absolutely clear and consistent.

“I stand by my testimony, which is an accurate account of events.

“I was told by Mr Crone and Mr Myler when we met, in that short meeting, that the civil litigation related to the interception of Mr Taylor’s voicemails to which Mulcaire had pleaded guilty the previous year.

“I was informed, for the first time, that there was evidence that Mulcaire had carried out this interception on behalf of the News of the World.

“It was for this reason alone that Mr Crone and Mr Myler recommended settlement. It was in this context that the evidence was discussed. They did not show me the email, nor did they refer to Neville Thurlbeck.

“Neither Mr Myler nor Mr Crone told me that wrongdoing extended beyond Mr Goodman or Mr Mulcaire.

“As I said in my testimony, there was nothing discussed in the meeting that led me to believe that a further investigation was necessary.”

‘It was discussed’

Recalling the emergence of the “for Neville” document – widely suspected to be intended for then NoW chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck – Mr Crone said: “It was clear evidence that phone hacking was taking place beyond Clive Goodman.

“It was the reason we had to settle the case and in order to settle the case, we had to explain the case to Mr Murdoch and get his authority to settle, so clearly it was discussed.

“I can’t remember the conversation and there isn’t a note of it. The conversation lasted about 15 minutes. It was discussed, but exactly what was said I can’t remember.”

But Mr Crone insisted that there was no “cover-up” by the company, as the email had been provided to them by the Metropolitan Police after it was seized from private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed with Goodman in 2007 for hacking into the phone messages of members of the royal household.


Earlier in the morning the News of the World’s former legal director Jon Chapman and human resources director Daniel Cloke gave evidence to MPs.

Both men said they were “surprised” by claims from jailed former News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman that phone hacking was widespread at the paper.

After his release from jail in 2007, Mr Goodman wrote a letter to the then News International group human resources director Daniel Cloke, protesting against his dismissal for hacking the phones of members of the royal household.

Goodman insisted he should keep his job, claiming that “other members of staff were carrying out the same illegal procedures” and that “this practice was widely discussed in the daily editorial conference”.

The letter, which came to light during the summer, flies in the face of the position News International took at the time of Goodman’s trial – that he was a rogue reporter acting alone.

Mr Cloke told MPs that Goodman’s claim surprised not only him, but also News of the World editor Colin Myler and NI head of legal affairs Tom Crone.

Mr Cloke said that as a human resources executive, he regarded the interception of voicemail messages as “gross misconduct” for which Mr Goodman deserved to be sacked.