More trouble for James Murdoch today: UK police told several News International executives — including former CEO Rebekah Brooks — in 2006 that several News of the World journalists were involved in phone hacking, according to a report today in The Independent. The paper says it has “strong circumstantial evidence” that in August 2006 a senior police officer supplied names of lawbreaking reporters to Brooks. She’s one of Rupert Murdoch’s closest allies and was arrested by Scotland Yard in July.
The report raises new questions about Murdoch’s claim that he believed as late as 2008 that only one reporter — former NOTW royals reporter Clive Goodman — had been implicated. The date is important: Murdoch maintains that he wasn’t trying to cover up the extent of the scandal in 2008 when he paid an astronomical $1.4M settlement to a hacking victim who was aware of a second reporter’s involvement — on the condition that the matter be kept secret.
“If these allegations are true, then Parliament was not given the full facts of the case when senior executives appeared before MPs,” Labour MP Tom Waston told the paper today. “We also need to know who it was in the Metropolitan Police that was informing News International of the conduct of a criminal inquiry that was taking place. How could it be that NI were aware of the conduct of a police inquiry almost in real time?”
James Murdoch’s credibility has already been challenged by former NOTW legal affairs manager Tom Crone and editor Colin Myler. They said during testimony before a UK parliamentary committee this month that before Murdoch paid the 2008 settlement he had seen an email that made it clear a second reporter had broken the law. Murdoch called their claims contradictory. James and former News International head Les Hinton — another former News International chief who in July resigned as CEO of Dow Jones — will return to parliament to answer questions about what they knew and when they knew it.