The son of Rupert Murdoch has admitted in a letter to British lawmakers that he authorized large payments to a convicted criminal, seemingly in exchange for his silence about his company’s activities.
Under questioning by members of Parliament last month, James Murdoch, CEO of News International, said he was not aware that confidentiality played any role in settlement payments amounting to £256,503, given to former News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman, and another payment of over £700,000, made to Gordon Taylor, a hacking victim and chairman of the U.K.’s Professional Footballers’ Association.
Following revelations by a recently released letter Goodman wrote in 2007, accusing top News Corp. officials of openly discussing their hacking efforts during editorial meetings, Murdoch amended an earlier statement to Parliament, writing, “I did not know at the time or when I gave my evidence that any part of the amount of the Taylor settlement specifically related to the confidentiality aspect of the settlement.”
Murdoch added that he was “not party to” discussions about either settlement, despite making the ultimate decisions to issue payment. It still remains unclear whey exactly Taylor was paid such a large amount, compared to other News Corp. hacking settlements. Murdoch still maintains he did not sign off on the payment to prevent more details about the hacking scandal from leaking out.
The News Corp. CEO’s son took News International’s helm shortly after the hacking scandal began, when Goodman was caught intercepting phone messages meant for people who work for the royal family. He soon became the first reporter to be arrested for hacking phone messages and emails of high ranking officials, celebrities and others, and News Corp. officials would later insist the scandal was limited to his actions alone.
Les Hinton, the former CEO of News International — who would have known about the negotiations with Goodman — was picked by Rupert Murdoch to lead Dow Jones, which publishes The Wall Street Journal. Hinton resigned last month as the hacking scandal grew with such intensity that News Corp. decided to completely scrap their generations-old News of the World tabloid.
In his resignation letter to his longtime boss, Hinton insists he was “never told” about possible misdeeds within News of the World, but Goodman’s letter would seem to prove otherwise.
The latest revelations are likely to trigger the recalls of Rupert and James Murdoch, and potentially Les Hinton, for fresh rounds of testimony before Parliament.
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