Reporter insists truth will come out in phone hacking scandal

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THE News of the World’s former chief reporter said last night the “truth will out” and claimed he had refused a police offer to give evidence against his ex-employers.

Neville Thurlbeck also confirmed he had compiled his own hacking dossier in an attempt to clear his name.

“My anger is not with News International, but with the News of the World and I will fight all the way to the High Court to clear my name,” he said.

Mr Thurlbeck says detectives asked him to become a prosecution witness after seizing documents from his home. He also claims that evidence taken from his property after his arrest in April indicated he warned senior colleagues two years ago about hacking.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said the force was not prepared to discuss Mr Thurlbeck’s claim.

Mr Thurlbeck, who was bailed on suspicion of unlawfully intercepting mobile phone voicemail messages, has also lodged a claim for unfair dismissal against News International.

His comments came as the row deepened between media boss James Murdoch and two former executives at the News of the World, about who knew what regarding phone hacking at the newspaper.

In a bruising second appearance before the House of Commons Culture Committee’s inquiry into the scandal, Mr Murdoch insisted he had not learned until recently that the practice of illegally eavesdropping on private phone messages went beyond a single “rogue reporter”.

Mr Murdoch “disputed vigorously” claims from former editor Colin Myler and ex-legal manager Tom Crone that they informed him at a meeting in June 2008 of the significance of an email revealing the practice was more widespread.

Evidence given to the committee by Mr Crone and Mr Myler in September was “inconsistent and not right”, he said, adding: “I believe their testimony was misleading and I dispute it.”

In a statement released shortly after the hearing, Mr Crone described his former boss’s comments as “disingenuous”.

“It is regrettable, but I can perfectly understand why James Murdoch felt the need to discredit Colin Myler and myself,” he said.

“The simple truth is that he was told by us in 2008 about the damning email and what it meant in terms of wider News of the World involvement.

“It seems he now accepts he was told of the email, of the fact that it contained transcripts of voicemail interceptions and that those interceptions were authorised by the News of the World.

“Perhaps Mr Murdoch could explain who he thought was doing the authorising at the News of the World? At best, his evidence on this matter was disingenuous.”

In a two-and-a-half-hour grilling, Mr Murdoch was accused by Labour MP Tom Watson of acting like a “mafia boss” whose company operated an “omerta”-style code of silence to cover up criminal behaviour. The News International chief rejected this.

He condemned his company’s use of private investigators to carry out surveillance of lawyers representing hacking victims as “appalling” and “unacceptable”, but said it was ordered by Mr Crone and another News of the World employee without authorisation.

The newspaper’s royal editor, Clive Goodman, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed in January 2007 for illegally intercepting voicemails, but News International maintained until earlier this year that they were acting alone.

Mr Murdoch suggested that Mr Myler, who was brought in as editor in 2007 to investigate the phone-hacking scandal and clean up the newspaper, should have informed him of how widespread the practice was.

Conservative MP Louise Mensch asked Mr Murdoch if he was aware private detectives looked into the background of every MP on the Culture Committee when it was investigating News International.

“I am aware of the case of surveilling Mr Watson, and again I think under the circumstances I apologise unreservedly for that,” replied Mr Murdoch.

“It is not something that I would condone, it is not something I had knowledge of, and it is not something I think that has a place in the way that we operate.”

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Watson conceded it was possible Mr Murdoch did not realise the scale of phone hacking at the NOTW.

The Labour MP said: “It is plausible that he didn’t know but, if he didn’t know, he wasn’t asking the questions that a chief executive officer should be asking.”