James Murdoch insisted Thursday that he was not made aware of the extent of phone hacking at the News of the World as long ago as 2008.
Appearing before the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee for the second time, News International’s executive chairman rejected claims made by the paper’s former editor Colin Myler and legal manager Tom Crone.
He told the committee that when they met to discuss the settlement of a legal claim in June 2008, they did not make him aware of the contents of the so-called “For Neville” email indicating the wider extent of phone hacking at the paper.
“The nature of the so-called ‘For Neville’ email… any wider spread or evidence or suspicion of wider spread of wrongdoing – none of these things were mentioned to me,” he said.
Murdoch said that the meeting with Myler and Crone had been to discuss increasing an offer to settle a legal claim brought by the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association Gordon Taylor.
“The meeting, which I remember quite well, was a short meeting, and I was given at that meeting sufficient information to authorise the increase of the settlement offers that had been made,” he said. “But I was given no more than that.”
He said the “For Neville” email had been important for two reasons, the first of which was that it represented evidence that messages had been transcribed for the News of the World.
The second was that it named another journalist working for the newspaper.
“That second part, that importance, was not described to me in detail or at all,” Murdoch said. “It was not described as the For Neville email, and I want to be very clear. No documents were shown to me at that meeting or were given to me at that meeting.”
Documents released by News International’s former lawyers Farrer Co last week suggested there was an earlier discussion between Myler and Murdoch, around May 27 2008, at which the “For Neville” email might have been raised.
He said Myler and Crone gave misleading information to the committee over his knowledge of the hacking.