James Murdoch said today he stood by his evidence to MPs investigating the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
He spoke out after the former legal chief of NoW publisher News Group Newspapers told MPs he was “certain” he told Mr Murdoch about an explosive email which proved that knowledge of phone-hacking was more widespread at the News of the World than the company had claimed.
Mr Murdoch Jr had previously told the Commons Culture Committee he was not aware of the notorious “For Neville” document, which blew apart the company’s stance that hacking was the fault of a single rogue reporter – former royal correspondent Clive Goodman, who was paying private investigator Glenn Mulcaire to carry it out.
Tom Crone told the committee he informed Mr Murdoch about the document – a transcript of hacked private information about Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor – in a 15-minute meeting, also attended by then NoW editor Colin Myler in 2008.
Commenting after the hearing, News International described the evidence given today as “unclear and contradictory”.
And James Murdoch said in a statement: “My recollection of the meeting regarding the Gordon Taylor settlement is absolutely clear and consistent.
“I stand by my testimony, which is an accurate account of events.
“I was told by Mr Crone and Mr Myler when we met, in that short meeting, that the civil litigation related to the interception of Mr Taylor’s voicemails to which Mulcaire had pleaded guilty the previous year.
“I was informed, for the first time, that there was evidence that Mulcaire had carried out this interception on behalf of the News of the World.
“It was for this reason alone that Mr Crone and Mr Myler recommended settlement. It was in this context that the evidence was discussed. They did not show me the email, nor did they refer to Neville Thurlbeck.
“Neither Mr Myler nor Mr Crone told me that wrongdoing extended beyond Mr Goodman or Mr Mulcaire.
“As I said in my testimony, there was nothing discussed in the meeting that led me to believe that a further investigation was necessary.”
News International said it was continuing to cooperate fully with the Metropolitan Police in its investigations into phone hacking and police payments.
It added: “We are eager to assist it in any way possible to ensure that those responsible for criminal acts are brought to justice.”