Clive Goodman, a former News of the World reporter who was jailed in 2007 for phone hacking, implicated Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch, Andy Coulson and others in a March 2, 2007 letter to News International, the Guardian reported.
The letter was sent shortly after Goodman was released from prison, according to the Guardian. Former News International CEO Les Hinton, who recently resigned from the Wall Street Journal, had called for Goodman to be fired after his admission of phone hacking, the Guardian explained, so Goodman’s letter tried to “appeal” that decision.
According to the Guardian, the letter hadn’t been published until yesterday and was released by the parliamentary committee dealing with the phone hacking charges. The Guardian explained that the committee got two redacted versions of Goodman’s letter — News International’s copy deleted “not only the names but also all references to hacking being discussed in Coulson’s editorial meetings and to Coulson’s offer to keep Goodman on staff if he agreed not to implicate the paper.” The copy from the law firm Harbottle & Lewis only blocked out journalists’ names.
While Goodman’s letter is only part of “a cache of paperwork” the committee released, Parliament member Tom Watson called it “absolutely devastating” and “the most significant piece of evidence that has been revealed so far.” Watson also called it “one of the largest cover-ups I have seen in my lifetime,” the Guardian reported.
Similarly, the Telegraph commented that the letter is “nothing short of incendiary.”
According to the Guardian, despite Goodman’s attempt to appeal, News International “resisted.”
Goodman’s letter (see here) claimed that some at News of the World knew about the phone hacking he used. The names of those he accused were redacted. He noted that News International’s Tom Crone “attended virtually every meeting of my legal team and was given full access to the Crown Prosecution Service’s evidence files.”
Goodman also asked for News International to provide e-mails ” sent to and from six named senior journalists on the paper.” Instead, “The company collected 2,500 emails and sent them to Harbottle & Lewis and asked the law firm to examine them.”
In response Harbottle & Lewis stated :
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“I can confirm that we did not find anything in those emails which appeared to us to be reasonable evidence that Clive Goodman’s illegal actions were known about and supported by both or either of Andy Coulson, the editor, and Neil Wallis, the deputy editor, and/or that Ian Edmondson, the news editor, and others were carrying out similar illegal procedures.”
But, while the Guardian noted the Murdochs based their claims hacking was limited to Goodman, the law firm denied that the firm’s letter was to absolve News of the World from legal criticism. The firm stated it was “instructed only to say whether the emails contained evidence that Goodman had hacked phones with ‘the full knowledge and support’ of the named senior journalists.”
The law firm also criticized the Murdochs and their July 19 parliamentary testimony. According to the Guardian, the law firm stated that “News International’s view of the law firm’s role is ‘self-serving’ and that Rupert Murdoch’s claim that it was hired ‘to find out what the hell was going on’ was ‘inaccurate and misleading.'” The law firm did allow the Murdochs a bit of leeway though, noting that they may not have known exactly what the law firm’s “role” was, according to the Guardian.
The firm added that it was never hired to give the company a “clean bill of health” or “good conduct certificate” or to “find out what the hell was going on.”
Mediaite added that in response to the letter’s release, some Parliament members are questioning Rupert and James Murdochs’ testimony to Parliament in mid-July.
The Wall Street Journal reported that “Investigators haven’t found hard evidence so far in probing whether News Corp.’s U.K.-based journalists might have hacked the phones of 9/11 victims, but U.S. authorities have expanded their query to see whether they can establish a broader pattern of more recent misconduct at the company’s U.S. operations, say people familiar with the matter.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, which is owned by News Corp., the FBI or the NYPD have reportedly not found any phone hacking of 9/11 victims.