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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Grilling for phone hack witnesses


Four former News International executives will face a fresh round of questioning from MPs over the phone-hacking scandal. The Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee will quiz the News of the World's former editor Colin Myler and ex-legal manager Tom Crone after the pair publicly challenged evidence given by James Murdoch over his knowledge of the illegal practice. News International's former director of legal affairs Jonathan Chapman and Daniel Cloke, former group HR director, will also appear before the committee as the probe into the scandal is resumed following the summer recess. Mr Myler and Mr Crone have been summoned before MPs for the second time after publicly disputing claims made by Mr Murdoch earlier in the Parliamentary inquiry. The News International chairman told the committee he was not made aware of an email in 2008 indicating that the practice of illegally intercepting voicemails was not confined to a single "rogue" reporter. But the two former Sunday tabloid executives insist that they told him about the message in June of that year. The panel of MPs could now recall Mr Murdoch "depending on their evidence under questioning". Committee chairman John Whittingdale said the latest round of questioning was an attempt to uncover the truth in the "continuing difference in the accounts of James Murdoch and Tom Crone and Colin Myler about whether or not James Murdoch was aware of the so-called 'for Neville' email". The 2005 email contained transcripts of hacked phone messages and was headed "for Neville", in an apparent reference to the News of the World's then-chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck. Its existence came to light in April 2008 when Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor brought a damages claim against the paper over the interception of his voicemail.


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