Ex-News Intl. exec contradicts Murdoch evidence

Crone says Murdoch knew about widespread hacking

Former News Intl. legal chief Tom Crone told members of Parliament he was “certain” he had told James Murdoch about an email revealing phone hacking at the News of the World went beyond one reporter.

Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer of News Corp., said he stood by his testimony to Parliament that he was unaware of the scope of illegal activities by reporters and freelancers working for the now-shuttered tabloid.

Crone told a committee Tuesday that in 2008 he informed Murdoch, then chief exec of News Intl., about the “For Neville” email that proved more than one “rogue reporter” — referring to royal correspondent Clive Goodman, aided by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire — used illegal phone hacking methods to obtain stories at the paper. The email is alleged to have implicated the Brit tabloid’s chief reporter at the time, Neville Thurlbeck, in illegal activity.

This revelation from Crone contradicts previous evidence Murdoch gave in July before a parliamentary committee, where he denied any knowledge of such an email. Crone said he told Murdoch about the document — a transcript of hacked private information about Gordon Taylor, chief exec of the Footballers’ Assn. — in a15-minute meeting, which was attended by Colin Myer, then-editor of the News of the World. At the meeting he had been authorized by Murdoch to reach a £425,000 ($677,219) settlement with Taylor.

“My recollection of the meeting regarding the Gordon Taylor settlement is absolutely clear and consistent,” Murdoch said in a statement issued after Crone’s appearance. “I stand by my testimony, which is an accurate account of events.”

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