Further doubt cast on News Corp. chief's July statements to Parliament
Former News International executives on Tuesday challenged testimony given by their bosses — Rupert and James Murdoch — with one saying the media mogul had gotten it wrong when he blamed outside lawyers for improperly investigating the company’s tabloid phone hacking scandal.
Jonathan Chapman, the former director of legal affairs with News International, said Rupert Murdoch wasn’t being accurate when he told Parliament that he blamed the London law firm Harbottle & Lewis for failing to uncover the scope of the hacking scandal back in 2007. News International is the British arm of Murdoch’s global News Corp. media empire.
“I don’t think Mr. Murdoch had his facts right,” Chapman told lawmakers. “He was wrong.”
Chapman was one of four executives fielding questions from Parliament’s media committee about what they knew and when — and all have already cast doubt on key aspects of the testimony given by the Murdoch family earlier this summer.
The hacking scandal has decimated Murdoch’s British newspaper arm, leading to the closure of its top-selling Sunday tabloid, News of the World, and the arrests of more than a dozen journalists.
It’s also rocked the top levels of Britain’s political and police elite. Andy Coulson, a former News of the World editor and until recently one of Prime Minister David Cameron’s top aides, has resigned — as have the two top officers with Scotland Yard. Coulson was one of 15 people arrested.
Media committee chairman John Whittingdale says the latest hearing aims to uncover the truth about a critical piece of evidence, unearthed in 2008, suggesting that voicemail interception at the News of the World was far more widespread than the tabloid claimed at the time.
Questions about who saw the evidence are critical to establishing whether there was an attempt to cover up the scale of illegal behavior at the now-defunct tabloid.
The News of the World stands accused of spying on a host of politicians, celebrities, top athletes, crime victims and even terrorism survivors by systematically intercepting voicemail messages in an effort to get scoops. Allegations of computer hacking and police bribery are also being investigated by Scotland Yard.
The evidence in question was an email carrying the transcript of an illegally intercepted conversation and marked “for Neville” — an apparent reference to the News of the World’s chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck.
Because it apparently implicates others in the hacking, the email has the potential to undermine News International’s fiercely held contention that one reporter alone, Clive Goodman, had engaged in phone hacking.
If Rupert Murdoch’s son James knew about the email — and was aware of its implication — it would lend weight to the suggestion that he had approved a massive payoff to one employee in an effort to bury the scandal.
James Murdoch has said earlier that he was not aware of the email at the time, but former News International legal adviser Tom Crone and Colin Myler, a former editor at News of the World, contradicted him in Tuesday’s testimony.
“I told him about the document,” Crone insisted, adding there could be no doubt that “this document meant that News of the World had a wider problem and that we had to get out of it.”
Daniel Cloke, News International’s former personnel director, also contradicted James Murdoch’s contention that he and Chapman had approved the massive compensation awarded to Goodman, the disgraced reporter. One lawmaker has alleged that payment was made to buy Goodman’s silence about the scale of phone hacking at the paper.
Cloke and Chapman said it was Murdoch’s right-hand man, Les Hinton, who signed off on the quarter million pound payout.
Hinton, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, was the most senior Murdoch executive to resign in the hacking scandal.
More Related Stories
- Here come the tornado truthers. Already
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
- Moore officials: Funds for "safe rooms" were held up by red tape
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- Rescue crews race to find tornado survivors
- Looting in Oklahoma?
- Hundreds of low-wage federally contracted workers strike in D.C.
- Okla. mother's tearful reunion with her 8-year-old son
- New campaign compares gun control to anti-LGBT discrimination
- Study: Salt Lake City is gay parenting capital of the U.S.
- Inhofe and Coburn: Red state hypocrites
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Watch: Family emerges from storm shelter after tornado
- Must-see morning clip: Barackalypse Now
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- Is Pope Francis an exorcist?
- Oklahoma death count confirmed at 24, 9 children
- Frantic parents search for children in tornado's wake
- Crews dig through rubble after deadly tornado
- 51 killed in massive Oklahoma tornado
- Don't cry climate-change wolf
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11