James Murdoch Insists Ex Editor And Lawyer Kept Full Horror From Him

James Murdoch said a trio of former News International executives had not briefed him fully enough, during his second questioning by MPs on Thursday, as he repeated and amplified his earlier assertion that he was unaware phone “hacking”‘ was widespread at the News Of The World.

Murdoch contradicted earlier testimony given by former [1] News International legal manager Tom Crone and [2] former News Of The World editor Colin Myler that they had warned Murdoch hacking was practised by more than just one “rogue reporter”.

And he said [3] former Dow Jones (NSDQ: NWS) chief Les Hinton did not discuss phone “hacking” with him when Hinton handed Murdoch stewardship of News Corp.’s UK news business.

“It’s clear to me that, in 2008, the information I received around the (Gordon) Taylor case was insufficient,” Murdoch said. “It’s also clear that, in 2009, … the full extent of the knowledge within the business … was not made clear to me.

“I believe that, where evidence or sufficient suspicion of widespread criminality or allegations of it were there, this was the job of the new editor (Myler), who had come in to clean this up, to make me aware of those things. But on the contrary, I was not shown those things in 2008.

“It would have been better if the whole issue of the legal opinion was made clear to me. The only things that were discussed were the things Mr Crone and Mr Myler deemed sufficient.”

Asked about a memo which Crone testified he had sent to Murdoch that detailed the scale of “hacking”, Murdoch told MPs…

“Mr Crone prepared a memorandum but it was substantially narrower … It did not discuss those crucial elements of widespread criminality and certainly did not discuss those individuals involved.”

Asked about a barrister’s legal opinion which also warned about the practise, Murdoch said…

“Mr Silverleaf (QC) did produce an opinion. It was not shown to me at the time.

“I was given, at the June 10 meeting, sufficient information (only) to increase the (payouts to the first hacking victims)…”

Asked about notes of a meeting which appeared to show Myler reluctant to give Murdoch further information, Murdoch told MPs…

“It shows he (Myler) was worried about raising these issues with me, because I would have said ‘Get rid of them all, let’s cut out the cancer’… That speaks volumes. It’s also why perhaps I was given a narrower set of facts than I might have liked… none of it was discussed with me.”

Asked if the continuing discrepancy between Murdoch’s evidence and that of Crone and Myler suggested they had misled the committee, Murdoch said…

“This committee was given evidence by individuals either without full possession of the facts or now, it appears in the process of my own discovery, … it was economical. It was inconsistent and not right.

“My own testimony has been consistent. Where I haven’t had direct knowledge in the past, I’ve gone and tried to seek answers and find out what happened.

“Asked if that implies he thought Crone and Myler misled parliament, Murdoch confirmed: “It follows that I do, yes … I believe their testimony was misleading and I dispute it.”

Tom Watson MP presented a transcript of a discussion he held with former News Of The World reporter Neville Thurlbeck, who was dismissed for allegations he denies, in which Thurlbeck said he had been told by Crone that Crone would pass to Murdoch an email with full information.

But Murdoch repeated his denials of that throughout, adding: “They never showed me this email. They never discussed the significance of the Queen’s Counsel opinion.”

And he said: “Mr Hinton did not discuss with me any matters around the issue of Mr (Clive) Goodman (the jailed former News Of The World royal editor). He didn’t raise it with me or brief me on it. There was no reason to believe it was anything other than a settled matter that was in the past.”