Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Troubles For News Corp; Emails Show Top Execs Knew of Hacking

The smoking gun may have emerged that would strike at the heart of News Corporation as it continues to push back against allegations that top executives didn't know of the hacking work done by staffers at its various news outlets in the United Kingdom. Turns out that they did know, and they have the emails to prove it:
Clive Goodman, the former royal reporter jailed for his role in phone hacking, wrote a letter in 2007 claiming that phone hacking was "widely discussed" at editorial meetings, and that former editor Andy Coulson offered to let him keep his job if he agreed to say in court that he was a rogue element within the paper.

The claims are deeply damaging to Coulson, who has always maintained that he did not know about the hacking going on at his paper. They are also politically perilous for Cameron, who took Coulson on even as evidence mounted against him. Moreover, they raise fresh danger for James and Rupert Murdoch, both of whom claimed to know nothing about hacking. Before the documents were released, the select committee for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced that it is "likely" to recall James Murdoch when Parliament resumes in September.

The letter was one of several documents published by a parliamentary committee on Tuesday afternoon.
Goodman's letter is from March 2, 2007, after he was released from prison. In the letter, Goodman says he is appealing his firing from the News of the World specifically because he carried out his duties with the "full knowledge and support" of top journalists on the paper, and because the practice was so widespread at the paper.

The letter claims that hacking was so frequently talked about that Coulson—who went on to become David Cameron's top spin doctor—eventually was forced to ban mention of the practice. Goodman also says that he was repeatedly promised to be kept on, even after he was arrested. He further claims that the paper continued to pay and consult him on stories, even after it was known that he would plead guilty.

"[The paper's top lawyer] Tom Crone and the editor promised on many occasions that I could come back to a job at the newspaper if I did not implicate the paper or any of its staff in my mitigation plea," Goodman writes. "I did not, and I expect the paper to honour its promise to me."

The Guardian's Nick Davies also reports that Les Hinton, the former Dow Jones chief who resigned amidst allegations about his role in the scandal, received a copy of Goodman's letter but failed to pass it to the police. He then told Parliament that Coulson was completely unaware of the hacking going on.
Expect to see the Murdoch's hauled back before the British Parliament to deal with the new revelations, particularly because their earlier statements now look more and more like a coverup.

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