Former News of the World editor and Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson. (Neal Leon/AFP/Getty Images)

It was July 2009, and Nick Davies, an investigative reporter for The Guardian, presented a big scoop on how Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers had paid in excess of $1.6 million to hush victims of their phone-hacking ways. The story was thick with detail about the out-of-court settlements and noted that the news could “open the door to hundreds more legal actions.” The scoop marked a bad day for Andy Coulson, then an aide to David Cameron and a former editor of News of the World, a publication that was shuttered over the phone-hacking scandal.

Given the scandalous behavior unearthed by Davies, one sentence in the story looked a touch odd. He wrote that the revelations posed questions for “Murdoch executives who, albeit in good faith, misled a parliamentary select committee, the Press Complaints Commission and the public.”

Again, that was 2009. In his recently published book, “Hack Attack: The Inside Story of How the Truth Caught Up with Rupert Murdoch” (reviewed here by the Erik Wemple Blog), Davies sheds light on just how that sentence came together:

The story had been damped down a little by the Guardian‘s legal department. For fear of UK libel law, which makes it dangerous to criticise people who can afford aggressive lawyers, I had had to steer clear of any direct suggestion that Andy Coulson knew about the illegal activity…. For the same reason, I had had to suggest that Murdoch’s executives might have been acting ‘in good faith’ when they misled a parliamentary select committee, the Press Complaints Commission and the public. Personally, I believed that they had been deliberately lying.

Check out the book to see whether Davies’ suspicions bore out.