Murdoch tabloid ‘tried to conceal hacking’

DOCUMENTS showing how the News of the World tried to keep the Gordon Taylor phone hacking case under wraps have been published by the parliamentary committee investigating the scandal.

Correspondence between the tabloid’s then legal chief Tom Crone and editor Colin Myler details their efforts to achieve a “confidential settlement” with the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association.

In a memo on May 24 2008, Mr Crone advised: “Our position is very perilous.”

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Mr Taylor had obtained a “damning email” containing transcripts of his private voicemails as well as evidence from the Information Commissioner of other illegal activities by News of the World journalists, Mr Crone said.

“Amongst the documents from the Information Commissioner is a list of named News of the World journalists and a detailed table of Data Protection infringements between 2001 and 2003 (this is based upon evidence seized in a raid on another private investigator who was subsequently prosecuted).

“A number of those names are still with us and some of them have moved to prominent positions on NoW and The Sun.

“Typical infringements are ‘turning around’ car reg and mobile phone numbers (illegal).”

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In a subsequent email to solicitor Julian Pike, Mr Crone says that Mr Myler was to use the memo “as the basis for his chat with Chief Exec James Murdoch” – suggesting that Mr Murdoch was made aware of the issues at that stage.

Mr Murdoch, who is to appear before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee for a second time on November 10, has said he did not recall being briefed about the Gordon Taylor case until June 10 2008.

Also published yesterday are the notes of the News of the World’s external solicitor, Julian Pike, from a phone call with Mr Myler on May 27 2008 in which he writes that the editor “spoke to James Murdoch”.

The documentation, provided by Mr Pike’s firm Farrer & Co, shows how the News of the World tried to negotiate a settlement with Mr Taylor that would keep the case out of the courts.

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Having initially offered £150,000 plus costs, the paper then offered £350,000. Mr Pike told Mr Taylor’s solicitor, Mark Lewis, that “there might be a little bit more on the table if a confidentiality deal could be agreed”.

Mr Murdoch has denied the claims of Mr Myler and Mr Crone that they informed him of the so-called “for Neville” email which seemed to implicate other News of the World journalists in phone hacking.

They told the select committee earlier this year that they had told News International boss Mr Murdoch about the document when he sanctioned the Gordon Taylor settlement in 2008.

In his note to Mr Myler shortly before that meeting with Mr Murdoch, Mr Crone wrote: “This evidence, particularly the email from the News of the World, is fatal to our case (with Gordon Taylor).”