How the Media Select Committee was 'led up the garden path' by News International

By James Cusick

Perhaps the most succinct summary of the Media Select Committee's report came from one of the Labour MPs who helped write it. "We have been led up the garden path," Paul Farrelly said.

Beyond its conclusion that News International and the News of the World "misled Parliament", the report contains numerous damning findings.

News International's misleading information

In 2006, Clive Goodman, then the royal editor of the NOTW, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator, were arrested on suspicion of illegally intercepting voicemails. They were convicted and jailed in 2007. News International still insists it carried out internal investigations to try to discover if there were others involved but, says the committee, these investigations were part of "an elaborate strategy to exaggerate evidence in support of the company's innocence".

Beginning of the cover-up

When Goodman came out of jail in 2007, NI paid him a year's salary of £90,000 ($179,400). Les Hinton, then executive chairman, authorised a further £153,000. This amount was described in the report as "extraordinary ... it is impossible not to question the company's motives".

Keeping Mulcaire off the radar

The committee found NI was determined to cover up the extent of phone hacking and was willing to meet all Mulcaire's legal bills to prevent him from revealing, in court, the names of those who instructed him at the NOTW.

Keeping Taylor out of court

The footballers' union boss Gordon Taylor launched a hacking claim and settled out of court for £700,000. The report found "keeping the settlement out of the public eye was absolutely central to the agreement".

'Rogue reporter' line exploded

Settling at £700,000, according to the report, indicated "some senior people at NI were aware ... that the 'rogue reporter' claim was untrue".

Keeping silent on the real evidence

In their evidence to the committee, Crone and the NOTW editor at the time, Colin Myler, offered assurances that nothing would be found on hacking beyond Goodman. The report says categorically: "This was not true". Both Crone and Myler "deliberately" avoided disclosing what they knew.

What James Murdoch was told

Crone claimed he showed James Murdoch the email that revealed the rogue reporter line was unsound. Murdoch says Crone and Myler's account of this is false. The report attacks Murdoch's lack of curiosity and criticises his "wilful ignorance" as "astonishing".

NI's strategy to blame the lieutenants

Senior figures at the company realised at the end of 2010 that it needed a new strategy. It decided to "lay the blame on certain individuals", including Myler and Crone, "whilst striving to protect more senior figures, notably James Murdoch".

Verdict on Rupert Murdoch

The report concludes Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone hacking. In MPs' words, he "exhibited wilful blindness ... ". Although the committee was split on whether this conclusion should appear, these words jump out of page 70: "Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company."

- Independent

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