James Murdoch may be recalled to parliament to give evidence on phone hacking, an MP has indicated, after new evidence was released by a select committee that revealed inconsistencies in several key witnesses' testimonies.
Described by MP Tom Watson as "devastating evidence", the documents released on Tuesday include a letter by Clive Goodman to his former employer News International in which he claims phone hacking was widespread and known about by senior figures in the company.
Former News of the World Editor Andy Coulson has come under fresh criticism as a result of the new evidence.
The law firm Harbottle & Lewis, whom Rupert Murdoch said made "major mistakes" in an investigation of emails relating to phone hacking, also released evidence to the committee. It attacked Murdoch's "self-serving" version of events, and said that its investigation had been very limited by the design of News International.
In another letter published online by MPs former legal chief at News of the World Tom Crone said he had "no doubt" that he informed James Murdoch of an email which indicated phone hacking was widespread at the newspaper.
"Since the 'for Neville' document was the sole reason for settling and, therefore, for the meeting, I have no doubt that I informed Mr Murdoch of its existence, of what it was and where it came from. I do not recall if I produced it and showed him a copy of it."
James Murdoch had told the select committee in July that he was not aware of the so-called "for Neville" email, which indicated that phone hacking at the newspaper was widespread.
In further written evidence to the committee also released on Tuesday, Murdoch continued to deny any knowledge of the contents of the email.
"Neither Mr Myler nor Mr Crone told me that wrongdoing extended beyond Mr Goodman or Mr Mulcaire, There was nothing discussed in the meeting that led me to believe that a further investigation was necessary."
The two Murdochs and former editor Andy Coulson could face further allegations of a cover up as a result of the evidence.
It includes a letter from Clive Goodman to the HR manager Daniel Cloke written four years ago but only published on Tuesday by the committee, which says phone hacking was "widely discussed" at editorial meetings.
It claims: “This practice was widely discussed at the Daily editorial conference, until explicit reference to it was banned by the Editor [Andy Coulson]”
The evidence also reveals:
- Legal firm Harbottle & Lewis claim they were employed to advise on Clive Goodman's employment dispute and there was "no question" of the firm giving News International a "clean bill of health which it could deploy years later in wholly different contexts for wholly different purposes."
- There were "serious inaccuracies" in the evidence given to the committee about Harbottle * Lewis' investigation, according to NI's former legal adviser John Chapman
- News International paid £246,000 worth of legal fees for Glen Mulcaire
- Clive Goodman was paid a salary in 2007 of £90,502.08 and £153,000 (£13,000 of which was to pay for his legal fees) in December 2007.
- During the company's settlement with Gordon Taylor settlement solicitor Mark Lewis was told "You are negotiating with Murdoch"
On Tuesday, John Whittingdale said he was "minded" to recall News International chairman James Murdoch.
“The Committee has now considered the responses that we have received from James Murdoch, Tom Crone and Colin Myler, from Rebekah Brooks, John Chapman and Harbottle and Lewis.
"These do raise a number of additional questions. In the first instance we will want to pursue some of these questions specifically with Colin Myler and Tom Crone and probably John Chapman and Daniel Cloke and they are likely therefore to be asked to come and give evidence to the Committee in September.
"We will also be seeking further information from a number of other individuals, both the legal firms employed by News International and former and current employees of News International and in due course when we have all of the information that we have requested we may well want to ask further questions to James Murdoch", he told journalists.
"He [Murdoch] very specifically says that he was not aware of the for Neville email… There remains this difference in accounts”.
News International said: “We recognise the seriousness of materials disclosed to the Police and Parliament and are committed to working in a constructive and open way with all the relevant authorities.”