LONDON — News International chairman James Murdoch was sent key emails in 2008 showing that phone-hacking was rife at the News of the World tabloid, according to details released by members of the parliament Tuesday.
But Murdoch said in a letter to a parliamentary committee that he had not read the emails forwarded to him by the newspaper’s then editor Colin Myler because he was using a Blackberry and it was the weekend.
Murdoch has previously denied being aware of the full scale of hacking at the now-defunct News of the World when he authorised a huge payout to Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association trade union, in 2008.
In an email “chain” dated Saturday June 7, 2008, and published by the committee on Tuesday, Myler requested a meeting with Murdoch to discuss the case and warned him: “Unfortunately, it is as bad as we feared.”
Below that was another email from News of the World legal adviser Tom Crone to Myler speaking of a “nightmare scenario” in that it was not only Taylor’s phone that had been hacked, but a colleague’s as well.
A third email in the chain sent to Murdoch, written by lawyer Julian Pike to Crone, said that Taylor “wants to demonstrate that what happened to him is/was rife throughout the organisation (the News of the World).”
Murdoch said that the meeting, which took place on June 10, 2008, was simply to authorise a bigger settlement offer to Taylor, and that he was not shown the email or told that it proved that hacking was widespread.
In a letter to the media standards committee on Monday, Murdoch said he had not read the full email “chain” when he received it from Myler three years ago.
“Given the timing of my response, just over two minutes after Mr Myler had sent his email to me, and the fact that I typically received emails on my Blackberry at weekends, I am confident that I did not review the full email chain or afterwards,” he wrote.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to reaffirm my past testimony that I was not aware of evidence that either pointed to widespread wrongdoing or indicated that further investigation was necessary.”
James Murdoch and his father, the media mogul Rupert Murdoch, both testified to the committee in July. James was recalled by the committee in November.
The News of the World was shut down in July amid public outrage after revelations that it had hacked the voicemail messages of a murdered girl, Milly Dowler.
But police this week told an inquiry into the scandal that allegations that the tabloid had also deleted some of Dowler’s messages, giving her parents false hope she was alive, were incorrect.