London: Indian IT company HCL has told the British parliamentary committee investigating phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch’s News International that it was asked to delete emails for the company on 13 occasions, four more than it had previously revealed.
The company wrote to the Home Affairs Select Committee to update testimony it had provided in August. The deletions affected thousands of emails over 19 months, from December 2009 to June 2011.
One of the four requests was to delete messages “from an inbox of a user who had not accessed his email account for eight years”.
Committee chairman Keith Vaz said: “The request for deletion of folders and emails by News International is concerning.”
James Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch at the hearing. Rupert Murdoch's wife Wendy Murdoch is seen in the background. AFP
United front crumbles at News International
The committee continues to try to find out what James Murdoch knew and when he knew it in terms of allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World, the newspaper his father closed in July as the crisis spiralled out of control.
Two News International executives contradicted James Murdoch when he said he had no knowledge that phone hacking went beyond disgraced former News of the World Royals reporter Clive Goodman.
News International’s former top lawyer, Tom Crone, and former News of the World editor, Colin Myler, had said that James Murdoch was “mistaken” when he told MP s that he had not been told of an email that phone hacking went beyond Goodman and was openly discussed at editorial meetings. That landed them in front of the committee.
However, in the hearing room, they stopped short of really sticking it to Murdoch. Crone said that he was certain that he had told Murdoch about the email, but neither Crone nor Myler said that they had actually shown the email to their former boss.
They denied that Goodman was paid a quarter of a million pounds after prison to buy his silence. They said the payment came was done out of “compassion”.
Conservative MP Louise Mensch said, “It’s as clear as mud.”
What is clear is that the united front is cracking at News International. As Cahal Milmo wrote in The Independent: “At times yesterday the only sound coming out of the Wilson Room in the Palace of Westminster was the thunk of the buck being passed between senior figures who once ran Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper empire.”
James Murdoch defended his earlier testimony, saying it was an “an accurate account of events”. While Crone and Myler didn’t deliver the blow to Murdoch as some expected, it still increased the chances that he will be called back before the committee.
More details are coming out from the hearings, but while we might know more, it’s adding up to less.
Firstpost Technologie by Kevin Anderson