Heir today, gone tomorrow?

By Rebecca Davis 3 November 2011

How long can James Murdoch possibly hang on to his position? As he gears up to face the parliamentary committee again next week, that same committee has just released a stash of documents internal to News International which prove that the knowledge about phone-hacking within the organisation dates back to at least 2008. By REBECCA DAVIS.

You may recall that when James Murdoch and his cantankerous father last addressed the House of Commons, in July, James swore blind that he had absolutely no, zero, zip, zilch idea that there was any phone-hacking going on whatsoever until he found out about it in 2010, when the Guardian began running an investigation on it.

But his story began to unravel when the News of the World’s former editor, Colin Myler, and the corporation’s legal manager, Tom Crone, both told Parliament that they had personally informed Murdoch about phone-hacking back in ’08. That was at the end of July. Now the parliamentary committee has released a cache of documents which make things look really sticky for James. Most damning among them is a letter from 2008 from News International’s lawyer Michael Silverleaf, announcing that they were unlikely to win a lawsuit brought against them by hacking victim Gordon Taylor because “there is overwhelming evidence of the involvement of a number of senior NGN [News Group Newspapers] journalists in the illegal enquiries”.

Of course, Murdoch will likely claim next week that he never saw the letter (as implausible as that idea is). But there’s also the matter of a set of notes from a conversation that Myler had with Murdoch in May 2008 – about the phone-hacking lawsuit.

There is, in short, basically incontrovertible evidence that James knew what was going on. How will he get out of this one? Stay tuned… DM

Read more:

  • Murdoch faces questions after memo reveals hacking was widespread, in The Telegraph.



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