Hacking: Murdoch execs ‘knew back in 2006’

Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks

Met told Rebekah Brooks hacking was widespread ‘earlier than Murdoch team have admitted’

LAST UPDATED AT 14:13 ON Thu 22 Sep 2011

WHAT'S HAPPENED?THE INDEPENDENT is reporting today that senior executives at News International, the parent company of the News of the World, were informed by the Metropolitan Police as early as 2006 that they had evidence that more than one journalist at the newspaper was implicated in the phone hacking scandal.
 
According to the Independent's exclusive report, a senior police officer met with Rebekah Brooks (above), then the editor of Sun but previously editor of the News of the World, shortly after the August 2006 arrest of NotW royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. The Independent claims that Brooks was told evidence seized from Mulcaire indicated widespread hacking at the paper.
 
The Independent also says Tom Crone, former legal manager of News International, knew about the meeting and about the information given to Brooks. The paper says that Crone told senior execs at NI - including the News of the World's then editor Andy Coulson – that the Met had "circumstantial evidence" confirming the involvement of more journalists.
 
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?If the claims are true, it means that many top executives at News International, including Brooks, Crone, Coulson and James Murdoch, have not been accurate in their claims about when they found out about the scale of phone hacking at the News of the World.

Their story has been that they did not find out until 2008.
 
According to Tom Watson MP, who led the charge against NI, "if these allegations are true, then Parliament was not given the full facts of the case when senior executives appeared before MPs". Watson also notes that it shows the closeness between the Met and NI during the original investigations.
 
For James Murdoch, it would suggest that when he signed off in 2008 on the £700,000 payment to footballers' union boss Gordon Taylor, he had been aware of the breadth of hacking at the paper for two years. Murdoch has recently denied he was apprised of any knowledge about this, a claim that has been rubbished by Crone and former NotW editor Colin Myler.
 
WHAT NEXT?James Murdoch and Les Hinton, who was chairman of News International during the period when Goodman and Mulcaire were discovered hacking into royals' phones, are due to face the Commons culture committee again at a date to be confirmed, probably in November. Their appearance looks set to be even more uncomfortable than was already predicted. · 

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