Admission over ‘phone hacking rife’ email to Murdoch

NEWS International boss James Murdoch has admitted he received an email in June 2008 alerting him to claims that phone-hacking was “rife” at the News of the World, in yet another revelation in the saga engulfing his news organisation.

Mr Murdoch, who has repeatedly claimed he had no idea phone-hacking was widespread at the newspaper until recently, has told the House of Commons Culture Committee that he never actually read the critical email sent to him by the newspaper’s then-editor Colin Myler, warning that “it is as bad as we feared”.

The email, released yesterday, is dated Saturday June 7, 2008. In it, Mr Myler requests a meeting to discuss the legal case being brought against the paper by Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor, over claims reporters had eavesdropped on his messages.

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The News of the World editor warned Mr Murdoch: “Unfortunately, it is as bad as we feared.”

Mr Myler was forwarding on a “chain” of emails detailing discussions between News International’s legal adviser Julian Pike and Mr Taylor’s lawyer, Mark Lewis.

In the earlier email, Mr Pike recounted how Mr Lewis had told him that Mr Taylor “wishes to be ‘vindicated or made rich’.

“He wishes to see NGN (News Group Newspapers, which owned the News of the World) suffer.

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“He wants to demonstrate that what happened to him is/was rife throughout the organisation. He wants to correct the paper telling parliamentary inquiries that this was not happening when it was.”

Mr Murdoch and Mr Myler met three days later, along with Tom Crone, legal manager NGN.

The editor and the lawyer say they told Mr Murdoch at that meeting about the discovery of a vital email proving phone-hacking was not limited to a single “rogue reporter”.

Mr Murdoch, however, insists the meeting was simply to authorise an increased settlement offer to Mr Taylor, and that he was never shown the email or told it proved wrong-doing was widespread.

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In the new letter to the select committee, also published yesterday, Mr Cameron says he is “confident” he never read all the emails in the chain, and that he simply replied to Mr Myler’s request for a meeting.

In a statement last night, Mr Murdoch said: “I was sent the email on a Saturday when I was not in the office. I replied two minutes later accepting a meeting and did not read the full email chain.

“As I have always said, I was not aware of evidence of widespread wrongdoing or the need for further investigation.”