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Posted at 08:40 AM ET, 08/16/2011

News of the World royal reporter’s letter alleges phone hacking cover-up


Chief executive of News Corp. Europe and Asia James Murdoch arrives at News International headquarters in London. (Sang Tan - AP)

An “explosive” letter written by News of the World’s former royal correspondent Clive Goodman and published Tuesday alleges that senior NOTW journalists might have participated in a coverup of phone hacking at the tabloid, the Guardian reports.

In the letter, which was written four years ago but only published Tuesday, Goodman says phone hacking was “widely discussed” at editorial meetings at the paper before NOTW editor Andy Coulson banned speaking about it.

Rupert and James Murdoch may now be asked additional questions by Parliament to justify the evidence they gave last month.


Clive Goodman, former royal editor of News of the World, as he arrives at City of Westminster Magistrates Court in London on Aug 16, 2006. (SANG TAN - ASSOCIATED PRESS)

In the letter, Goodman also says Coulson told him he could keep his job if he agreed not implicate the paper in phone hacking when he appeared in court, and says his own hacking was carried out with the “full knowledge and support” of other senior journalists.

Goodman was jailed in 2007 for intercepting mobile phone messages involving members of the royal household.

Prime Minister David Cameron had hired Coulson as his media adviser, saying he trusted that Coulson knew nothing about the hacking.

Tom Watson, a member of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, which published the documents, called Goodman's letter “absolutely devastating.”

“Clive Goodman's letter is the most significant piece of evidence that has been revealed so far. It completely removes News International's defense. This is one of the largest cover-ups I have seen in my lifetime,” said Watson.

Goodman's letter had been written as an appeal to News International's director of human resources several months after Goodman was released from a four-month prison sentence.

The letter also alleges that the company may have misled Parliament, having paid off Goodman with far more money than it had testified before Parliament.

Watson said, “It's hush money. I think they tried to buy his silence.”

British lawmakers had earlier said Tuesday that James Murdoch might have misled the committee while answering questions about phone hacking at the News of the World tabloid, and would be required to come back in for questioning.

James Murdoch testified last month that he was unaware of evidence of widespread phone hacking at the News of the World.

Police are investigating claims that the News of the World illegally hacked the cellphone messages of celebrities, politicians and crime victims.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. closed the 168-year-old newspaper last month.

Read Goodman’s letter here.

UPDATE, 9:34 p.m.

The Commons culture, media and sport select committee met Tuesday to discuss the new evidence it had received, and decided to call NOTW Chief Lawyer Tom Crone, former NOTW editor Colin Myler, NOTW human resources manager Daniel Cloke and NOTW lawyer John Chapman to give further evidence on the September 6.

The committee also said that “depending on their evidence under questioning, the Committee may also have further questions for James Murdoch and others.”

The Committee will also write to Andy Coulson and former NOTW editor Rebekah Brooks to ask them whether they wish to add anything to or amend any of the evidence they have previously given to the Committee.

By  |  08:40 AM ET, 08/16/2011

 
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