Things are only getting worse for News Corp. and executive James Murdoch in the ongoing phone hacking scandal after documents released today show the media giant agreed to pay more than a million dollars to an early hacking victim after the company’s lawyers realized that evidence from the case was “fatal” to its claims of innocence, Reuters reports:
On Tuesday, the newly released evidence suggested that lawyers for News Corp agreed to a huge pay-off to the victim, soccer players’ union boss Gordon Taylor, in 2008 because they realized the position was now “perilous”. [...]
“Our position is very perilous,” [Tom] Crone, the inhouse lawyer, told editor [Colin] Myler in the briefing notes. “The damning email is genuine and proves we actively made use of a large number of extremely private voicemails from Taylor’s telephone.”
The large payout to Taylor of around 750,000 pounds ($1.2 million) was agreed at a meeting between Crone, Myler and James Murdoch on June 10.
The new evidence seems to contradict what Murdoch had told the British Parliament when he claimed he had only had a short meeting about the issue in June. It also suggests that Murdoch understood the company was culpable, though he denies this. Former News Corp. outside counsel Julian Pike, asked at a Parliamentary hearing earlier this month if Murdoch had “mis-recalled the sequence of events,” replied, “I think so, yes.”
Moreover, the new details show that outside lawyers hired by the company had warned: “There is a powerful case that there is (or was) a culture of illegal information access used at NGN (News Group Newspapers) in order to produce stories for publication.”
Murdoch — the son of News Corp. founder Ruper Murdoch and heir apparent — has been at the center of the scandal, which has shaken investor confidence and led to law enforcement investigations on both sides of the Atlantic. After inconsistencies emerged in Murdoch’s story, he has been called back by Parliament to testify again. Nonetheless, the younger Murdoch was recently given a raise.