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Phone hacking update: Ex-employees ‘clarify’ Murdoch evidence

Chairman of News International, James Murdoch, was yesterday (21 July) seemingly forced to defend evidence he gave to the culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday, after it was called into question by two former employees – ex-News of the World editor Colin Myler and lawyer Tom Crone.

According to reports, last night Crone and Myler released a statement seeking to “clarify” a significant piece of Murdoch’s evidence.

In the committee session, MP Tom Watson had asked James Murdoch if, when he signed off a settlement payment to Gordon Taylor, he had seen or was made aware of an email “suggesting hacking was more widespread than had been admitted”. And James Murdoch replied no, “I was not aware of that at the time”.

But in their statement, Myler and Crone claim his recollection of what he was told “was mistaken”.

In fact, we did inform him of the ‘for Neville’ email which had been produced to us by Gordon Taylor’s lawyers.

Following Myler and Crone’s statement, Murdoch issues a single line statement: “I stand behind my testimony to the select committee.”

According to a BBC report, Watson has said he will now ask police to investigate this evidence, while committee chair John Whittingdale, was quoted as saying that it will be asking Murdoch to respond and clarify this.

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Myler on Mosley: ‘I make no apologies for publishing that story as editor’

May 5th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Legal

Colin Myler, News of the World, was up in front of a House of Commons select committee today, as part of an inquiry into press standards, privacy and libel.

Unsurprisingly Myler and News Group Newspapers’ lawyer Tom Crone were questioned about the Max Mosley case – though, as a new writ has been issued against the paper by Mosley, some responses had to be curtailed.

Nevertheless, some good nuggets from Myler and Crone on the consequences of publishing the story and why the NOTW broke it:

  • The costs of the Mosley trial came to around £900,000 with £100,000 damages, according to Crone.
  • Myler:

“Mr Mosley made quite a case that he’d never sought publicity, that he was a private person. I disagree with that fundamentally.

“For a man in his position (…) who so wrecklessly put himself in the hands of five prostitutes (…) you have to say you played some part in your own downfall.”

  • Myler: “Rarely in these situations are there any commercial benefits despite what people might think.”
  • A family newspaper: “I don’t agree that it was an unsuitable story for a family newspaper. Some people might sneer and say that we are scurrilous and scaberous but we are who we are. I make no apologies for publishing that story as editor.
  • Chilling effect of Mosley case? “I don’t think it’s had a chilling effect. It’s had a very practical effect on me as an editor and how you conduct yourself (…) I spend as much time talking to lawyers as I do journalists.

    “It doesn’t mean to say that you shy away, it means that you have to be equally diligent, efficient and careful and get very good legal advice.”

Myler also went on to discuss the issue of ‘celebrity stings’ by the NOTW, saying that while journalist Mazher Mahmood was widely known as the ‘fake sheikh’, he is also ‘one of the most professional newspaper journalists in the world’.

“He has been responsible for convicting and jailing 232 criminals. This is a man that puts himself in great danger and does so with such a professional aplomb that any media organisation would be proud to be associated with it,” he said.

Mahmood’s talents, said Myler, as increasingly being used for stories on immigration and religious radicalism: “There is some serious journalism within the News of the World.”

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NOTW website wins right to show Mosley ‘Nazi-orgy’ video

April 9th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal

The News of the World has been granted permission to republish a video on its website of Max Mosley, despite attempts by the formula one boss to have the footage removed.

Mosley, who is alleged to have participated in a Nazi-style orgy, had sought a High Court injunction banning the newspaper from showing the video or using images of the incident in the paper.

His application was refused today prompting a fighting statement from the paper’s legal manager Tom Crone, which said Mosley’s attempts to ‘suppress’ the video had ‘failed’.

Read more on the story at Journalism.co.uk.

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