Goodman letter says phone hacking ‘widely discussed’

Clive Goodman

MPs publish explosive letter from jailed reporter and say James Murdoch 'likely' to be recalled

BY Jonathan Harwood LAST UPDATED AT 15:32 ON Tue 16 Aug 2011

The News International phone hacking scandal is set to blow up again following the publication of a damning letter from the News of the World's former royal editor Clive Goodman, which he wrote in 2007 after he was sacked for 'gross misconduct' and in which he claimed that hacking was widely discussed at the paper.

The letter, written by Goodman after he was released from a four-month prison sentence for hacking into phones with the help of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, was published by the Commons culture select committee, which earlier said it might recall James Murdoch. It appears to cast doubt on claims that the News International top brass were not aware of hacking.

The redacted letter was published today on the committee's website.

Goodman's letter, dated March 2 2007, is addressed to the director of human resources at News International and states that he is appealing against his dismissal. "The decision is perverse in that the actions leading to this criminal charge were carried out with the full knowledge and support of [REDACTED]. Payment for Glen Mulcaire's services was arranged by [REDACTED]."

He adds: "The decision is inconsistent because the paper's [REDACTED] and other members of staff were carrying out the same procedures."

Goodman points out that the judge at his trial agreed that other staff at the paper had hired Mulcaire to hack phones. He then adds: "This practice was widely discussed at the daily editorial conference, until explicit reference to it was banned by the Editor."

The editor at the time was Andy Coulson, who went on to become David Cameron's senior media adviser.

Goodman also writes in his March 2007 letter that he had been promised that he would be able to return to his post as long as "I did not implicate the paper or any of its staff in my mitigation plea. I did not, and I expect the paper to honour its promise to me."

The letter was also sent to Les Hinton, a close adviser to Rupert Murdoch. The Guardian's investigative reporter Nick Davies notes that Hinton "led a cast of senior Murdoch personnel in telling parliament that they believed Coulson knew nothing about the interception of the voicemail of public figures and that Goodman was the only journalist involved."

Labour MP Tom Watson, a member of the committee that quizzed James and Rupert Murdoch last month, said: "Clive Goodman's letter is the most significant piece of evidence that has been revealed so far. It completely removes News International's defence. This is one of the largest cover-ups I have seen in my lifetime."

The publication of the letter appears to increase the likelihood of James Murdoch being recalled to give more evidence to the committee.

Committee chairman John Whittingdale said he would be asking senior NI executives Colin Myler, Tom Crone and Jon Chapman to give more evidence.

"When we have all that information and answers to the questions, I think that it would be likely that we will want to speak to James Murdoch again," he told the BBC. · 

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