Revelations of widespread phone hacking raise pressure on Murdoch

Further evidence in the News of the World phone hacking scandal published yesterday by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee has revealed that senior executives at the paper were in 2008 alerted to “a culture of illegal information access” at News International that involved “at least three” of its reporters.

A legal opinion sent on 3 June 2008 by News Group Newspapers’ counsel, Michael Silverleaf QC, to the paper’s chief lawyer, Tom Crone, also advised the newspaper to settle its case against Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association, who was suing the paper for breach of privacy.

In addition, internal correspondence published by the Committee revealed that Crone had privately told former editor Colin Myler in the same year about a “damning email”  that showed the tabloid had made use of “extremely private voicemails” left on Taylor’s phone in 2005. This contradicts the accounts given by Myler and Crone to the committee in 2009, in which they said there was was no evidence that other journalists were involved in phone hacking.

The revelations will heap further pressure on James Murdoch, who is due to face the committee on 10 November, to explain his role in handling the scandal. He told MPs in July this year that he was unaware that other News of the World journalists were implicated in the illegal practice before he paid Taylor a £750,000 settlement in 2008.

However both Crone and Myler told the committee in September that they had made Murdoch aware in June 2008 that phone hacking was not restricted to a single reporter. MPs are likely to question Murdoch about what he was told in his meetings with Myler and Crone, as well as whether he had been made aware of Silverleaf’s advice.

Detailed reports on yesterday’s revelations can be found here and here. Click here for the full evidence released by the committee yesterday.