Cameron demands explanation, FBI to contact Jude Law
LONDON — British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that James Murdoch “clearly” needs to answer questions in parliament after his evidence to British MPs on phone hacking at the News of the World was challenged.
Two former News of the World senior executives have accused Murdoch of misleading the parliamentary select committee where on July 19 he and his father, Rupert, denied all knowledge of widespread phone hacking at the News of the World.
Ex-editor Colin Myler, who was in charge of the paper when it was shuttered two weeks ago, and the News of the World’s former legal head Tom Crone said the evidence Murdoch gave to the British pols in relation to an out-of-court settlement paid to Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association, and authorized by Murdoch in April 2008, was “mistaken.”
Myler and Crone said they had told Murdoch of an email that indicated illegal interception of voicemails was not restricted to one “rogue reporter.”
The two claim that Murdoch, News Corp’s deputy COO, was informed of the email , known as the “for Neville” email because of its link to the paper’s former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck — when he approved the payment.
In a statement, Myler and Crone said: “Just by way of clarification relating to Tuesday’s Culture, Media Select Committee hearing, we would like to point out that James Murdoch’s recollection of what he was told when agreeing to settle the Gordon Taylor litigation was mistaken.
“In fact, we did inform him of the ‘for Neville’ email which had been produced to us by Gordon Taylor’s lawyers.”
Interviewed by the BBC, Cameron, whose own close links to the Murdoch camp have come under fire, said: “Clearly James Murdoch has got questions to answer in parliament and I’m sure he will do that.
“And clearly News International has got some big issues to deal with and a mess to clear up, that has to be done by the management of that company.
A statement issued by News Corporation said: “James Murdoch stands by his testimony to the select committee.”
Labor MP Chris Bryant, a key campaigner against News Corp in the scandal, has written to News Corp’s non-executive directors calling for Rupert and James Murdoch to be suspended following allegations that the latter had lied to parliament.
Fellow Labor MP Tom Watson told the Financial Times: “Either Mr. Myler and Mr. Crone are lying, or Mr. Murdoch has misled Parliament. If so, his position is untenable.”
Watson, who has asked police to investigate Myler and Crone’s claim, described the allegation that Murdoch had misled MPs as “the most significant moment of two years of investigation into phone hacking.”
He added that if the statement was accurate, “it shows James Murdoch had knowledge that others were involved in hacking as early as 2008, it shows he failed to act to discipline staff or initiate an internal investigation, which undermines Rupert Murdoch’s evidence to our committee that the company had a zero tolerance to wrongdoing.”
The MP went on: “More importantly, it shows he not only failed to report a crime to the police but because there was a confidentiality clause involved in the settlement it means that he bought the silence of [chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association] Gordon Taylor and that could mean he is facing investigation for perverting the course of justice.”
In another development in the saga, the BBC is reporting that the FBI plans to contact actor Jude Law following claims his mobile phone was hacked during a visit to the U.S.
It is alleged a story published by the News of the World in 2003 was based on information obtained from his voicemail.
If proved, this could lead to charges in the U.S. because his phone would have been operating on a U.S. network.
News International denies the allegations Meanwhile, Sun journo Matt Nixson has been sacked by News International.
In a statement, the company said: “News Corporation’s Management and Standards Committee [MSC] can confirm that News International today terminated the contract of a member of staff in relation to his previous work at the News of the World.
“The MSC is authorized to cooperate fully with all relevant investigations and inquiries in the News of the World phone-hacking case, police payments and all other related issues across News International, as well as conducting its own enquiries where appropriate.”