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Murdoch blames other NI execs for phone-hacking scandal

Claims he knew nothing of widespread voicemail tapping at NotW

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James Murdoch has once again defended himself against allegations that he knew in 2008 that phone-hacking was more widespread than one "rogue reporter" at the company's now-closed Sunday tabloid News of the World.

The News International chairman told MPs today that he was given "sufficient information" at a 30-minute meeting with ex-NotW editor Colin Myler and NI's legal manager Tom Crone in June of that year to "authorise the increase of the settlement offers" made to phone-hacking victim Gordon Taylor.

Former Professional Footballers' Association boss, Taylor, filed a damages claim against the newspaper, which was sensationally shut down by News International – the sister company of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp – in July this year.

Taylor eventually received £425,000, though he had sought a settlement payment of £1m from the company.

Murdoch looked assured as he faced the Culture, media and Sport select committee for a second time today, after he and his father were grilled in Westminster four months ago.

The younger Murdoch claimed that Crone had "misled" Parliament at an earlier session, when the ex-legal boss had alleged that the chairman had been privy to an email with the subject line "for Neville" that contained a transcript of illegally intercepted voicemail messages around the time he authorised the payment to Taylor.

The "importance" of the email demonstrated that another reporter working at the NotW was named, Murdoch said.

But it "was not described to me in detail or at all," he claimed.

"It was not described as the 'For Neville' email, and I want to be very clear. No documents were shown to me at that meeting or were given to me at that meeting."

Murdoch added that he was unable to recall any conversation with Myler prior to 10 June 2008, when he authorised the settlement payment to Taylor.

NI's ex-lawyers Farrer & Co released documents last week to the culture committee that appeared to suggest a discussion between the two men had taken place on 27 May 2008.

"The first and only substantive meeting or conversation that I recall about the matter was the June 10 meeting with Mr Crone and Mr Myler, although I cannot rule out whether or not he [Crone] called me or stopped me in the hallway, or something like that, for a brief conversation," Murdoch said.

"There is a lot of supposition in their [Crone and Myler] testimony," said Murdoch, when asked by MPs which party was telling the truth about what happened in the summer of 2008.

He admitted that: "At various times, and I am sorry for this, the company moved into an aggressive defence too quickly."

But the would-be heir to Rupert Murdoch's throne refused to accept that he had misled MPs at any point over the scandalous phone-hacking affair that has rocked News Corp. ®

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