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.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.