Rebekah Brooks down. Now Myler, Crone and Hinton await their fate

May 16, 2012
The Mole

Culture Committee under pressure to decide punishments for News International miscreants who misled MPs

WHILE THE flame-haired Rebekah Brooks vents her anger at the Crown Prosecution Service for charging her and her confidantes with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, three of her former News International lieutenants are still waiting to hear their fate at Westminster.

Colin Myler, former editor of the News of the World, Les Hinton, former executive chairman of News International, and Tom Crone, former legal manager of News Group newspapers, were all accused of misleading Parliament by the Commons select committee on Culture Media and Sport in its final report on phone hacking.

These were its findings:

• Les Hinton misled the Committee in 2009 in not telling the truth about payments to Clive Goodman, the former News of the World royal reporter who was jailed in 2007, and his role in authorising them, including the payment of his legal fee. He also misled the Committee about the extent of his knowledge of allegations that phone hacking extended beyond Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire to others at the News of the World.

• Tom Crone misled the Committee in 2009 by giving a counter-impression of the significance of confidentiality in the Gordon Taylor settlement and sought to mislead the Committee about the commissioning of surveillance.

• Tom Crone and Colin Myler misled the Committee by answering questions falsely about their knowledge of evidence that other News of the World employees had been involved in phone hacking and other wrongdoing.

• Corporately, the News of the World and News International misled the Committee about the true nature and extent of the internal investigations they professed to have carried out in relation to phone hacking; by making statements they would have known were not fully truthful; and by failing to disclose documents which would have helped expose the truth.

The Committee was split over the tougher wording - the original paragraph just found they had misled the committee - with Tory MPs voting against.

But they appeared united over the need for further action. The Committee concluded: "We note that it makes no difference — in terms of misleading this Committee - that evidence was not taken on oath. Witnesses are required to tell the truth to committees whether on oath or not. We will table a motion inviting the House to endorse our conclusions about misleading evidence."

In effect it said it was going to table a motion to the House calling on the Commons to decide what punishment it should mete out to Messrs Crone, Myler and Hinton.

The punishment could include being summoned to the bar of the House inside the chamber to be publicly admonished. The last time this happened was in 1954 when John Junor, editor of the Daily Express, was admonished by the Speaker for casting doubt on the integrity of MPs about petrol allowances.

But the Mole hears the Committee has not even discussed further action. The Committee chair, Tory MP John Whittingdale, may have been waiting for the police to make their move. The timing of the Crown Prosecution Service charges suggests they were waiting for Brooks to appear before the Leveson inquiry before making their move.

The Culture Committee will be under pressure now to get a move on. It cannot leave them swinging in the wind forever.

Whittingdale cannot plead he has other pressing business like tonight's Tory backbench hustings to elect the 1922 Committee, who act like the Tory MPs' shop stewards and have regular meetings with the boss (D Cameron esq). 'Whitto' has been returned unopposed as a vice chairman of the 1922 Committee.

Some of the Committee members are privately saying, 'Come on Whitto, get a move on. We want to see the tumbrils rolling for Murdoch's men.'

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So, misleading Parliament demands draconian punishment? Obviously then, retribution has to be imposed on Tony Blair for his hugely greater deception which led us into a disasterous war that continues haunt us with the fear of the retribution brought onto this land becauseof this foolhardy adventure!

Why no mention of the massive, aggressive letter/missive from Hinton to Whittingdale attacking him for "unfair, unfounded and eroneous" report? 13 pages one newspaper says, accusing committee of being misleading and misreading the evidence. Reported by FT, Guardian, Mail, Indie etc last Monday. Apparently the Speaker's been sent a copy, as has the Standards and Priv Com. Could be a clue right there...