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‘Smoking gun’ letter hurts J Murdoch

August 17, 2011

By Chris Forrester

A letter from News Corp’s lawyers Harbottle & Lewis is going to make life extremely difficult for James Murdoch. The damning letter, revealed by the lawyers to a UK parliamentary enquiry, in effect confirms that bosses at disgraced newspaper the News of the World knew all about the now notorious phone-hacking methods, and that such methods were regularly employed by the newspaper.

Senior News Corp managers, including James Murdoch, have repeatedly told Members of Parliament that such phone hacking was limited to one rogue reporter. The lawyer’s letter implies that the managers knew full well what was going on. There are now numerous calls for James Murdoch to be recalled by parliament for further questioning on what one described as the “explosive” letter, and what else he really knew. Another senior News Corp figure specifically mentioned in the letter is Les Hinton, then chairman of News Corp’s newspaper division.

More worrying is an explanatory letter to MPs from Harbottle & Lewis which accompanied the original document and said comments made about its work by Rupert and James Murdoch and other senior staffers had been “misleading” and “inaccurate”. The legal firm stressed to MPs that the review of emails which they had undertaken had been a limited “desktop exercise” covering a specific time period.

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