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Friday 22nd July 2011 | 11:07
Lots of attention is focused today on the decision by former News of the World editor Colin Myler to dispute evidence given to MPs by James Murdoch.
Myler, who led out his staff from Wapping after their emotional final edition two weeks ago, sounds like a man who is refusing to be dumped on for the whole hacking scandal.
But it's not just James Murdoch's evidence that Myler disputes. Rupert too uttered something that may have to be corrected or at least 'clarified'.
In a little-noticed section of the DCMS session on Tuesday, Murdoch said that it was his "understanding" that Myler had been appointed to "find out what the hell was going on" and that he brought in Harbottle and Lewis.
Here's the exchange with Paul Farrelly:
FARRELLY: My final question: given the picture that has been painted of individuals on the news desk acting as gatekeepers for a private investigator, do you think it is possible at all that editors of your newspaper would nothave known about these activities? Do you think it is remotely possible?
RUPERT MURDOCH: I can’t say that, because of the police inquiries and, I presume, coming judicial proceedings. That is all I can tell you, except it was my understanding—I had better not say it, but it was my understanding—that Mr Myler was appointed there by Mr Hinton to find out what the hell was going on, and that he commissioned that Harbottle & Lewis inquiry. That is my understanding of it; I cannot swear to the accuracy of it.
This was a strange formulation. On the one hand Murdoch reveals his 'understanding' ,but on the other clearly isn't sure.
Well, I'm told that contrary to Murdoch's evidence, Myler had no part in commissioning, meeting with or reviewing Harbottle and Lewis or their work. Moreover, the contents of the emails unearthed by the law firm were never shared with him.
In fact, I understand that when Harbottle and Lewis had done their work, Mr Myler was told by News International’s Director of Human Resources Daniel Cloke: "Good news, there is no smoking gun or silver bullet in the emails".
This all prompts yet more questions. It looks like Mr Cloke would be a vital witness for the DCMS Committee, if they can get him before them.
Jon Chapman, News International’s Director of Legal Affairs, is another central figure, given that he oversaw the Harbottle and Lewis process.
Mr Chapman has since left the media company, but he looks like a key figure who may answer the central question of who decided that the News of the World had not engaged in any illegal activity beyond the Goodman/Mulcaire case - and why. He too may well have to be called before the DCMS Committee.
The more we learn, the more it seems that the DCMS Committee may have to reopen its inquiry and call yet more witnesses when the House returns in September.
It's unclear whether John Whittingdale wants to do that, or even whether he will be legally allowed to.
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