More bad news for James Murdoch today ahead of his appearance next week before the UK Parliament’s culture committee, which is investigating the News Of The World phone-hacking scandal. The committee just released a tranche of legal correspondence that includes a letter supporting James’ chief opponents, former NOTW in-house lawyer Tom Crone and editor Colin Myler. They testified in September that they were “certain” Murdoch knew in 2008 about an email that indicated more than one journalist was involved in the lawbreaking — blowing a hole in the Murdoch’s claim that at the time he believed the trouble was limited to a single “rogue” reporter. If they’re right, then it suggests Murdoch tried to cover up the extent of the lawbreaking that year when he authorized a $1.4M out-of-court settlement with a non-disclosure clause to soccer chief Gordon Taylor, a hacking victim who knew that a second reporter had been implicated. One big question is whether the executives appreciated the implications of the email — addressed “For Neville” — that included transcripts from private calls. A just-released letter that Crone wrote to Myler on May 24, 2008, prior to a meeting with Murdoch indicates that they did. It said that the email “is fatal to our case” against Taylor. It added that “Our position is very perilous. The damning email is genuine and proves we actively made use of a large number of extremely private voicemails from Taylor’s telephone” in 2005. Murdoch says that the executives “did not show me the email.”
One piece of evidence released today does display Murdoch in a good light: A transcript of a phone call between Myler and an outside lawyer employed by News Group Newspapers shows what the editor suspected Murdoch’s reaction might be to wrongdoing: “James would say get rid of them — cut out cancer.”
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