A high-profile parliamentary panel investigating phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid released embarrassing new evidence Tuesday that the practice of intercepting voice mail had been widely discussed at the newspaper, contradicting assertions by its owners and editors.
In light of the new evidence, the panel also announced that it was summoning at least four former News of the World figures for questioning at a hearing next month and could possibly ask Mr. Murdoch’s son James, the head of the Murdoch conglomerate’s European operations, back for more testimony as well. Both father and son testified at a dramatic televised hearing last month. The disclosures threatened to push the scandal back to the forefront of public concern, raising worrying questions for Mr. Murdoch and for the British prime minister, David Cameron, who hired Andy Coulson, a former News of the World editor, as his director of communications and has been taunted by the opposition for poor judgment in doing so.
Tom Watson, a Labour lawmaker and member of the panel, also said Mr. Coulson may be among those summoned to give further evidence.
The newest allegations are contained in a four-year-old letter released for the first time from Clive Goodman, the News of the World’s former royal correspondent who served a jail term for hacking the mobile phones of three members of the royal household, to a senior human resources executive who had informed him that he was being dismissed.
In addition to the Goodman letter, the parliamentary panel released a letter from Harbottle & Lewis, a law firm hired by the Murdochs, which they have repeatedly cited as having given the News of the World a “clean bill of health” in reviewing a cache of e-mails in 2007. The law firm’s letter contradicts that assertion and says that its own investigation had been limited strictly to advising the company in its employment dispute with Mr. Goodman.
I guess basically they will have to keep treating the News Corp folks like any organized crime machine- keep pushing, and drip, drip, dripping evidence out until they fear prison more than Murdoch. It’s probably also worth pointing out that you can bet this is happening here- by the government, by criminals, by interested political parties, etc. The technology is out there, so unscrupulous people will do what unscrupulous people do.