NOTW executives' evidence may mean more questions for Murdoch


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The Independent Online

James Murdoch's status as heir apparent to his father's News Corp empire was last night in the hands of eleven MPs after two of his most senior executives suggested he was lying over his knowledge of phone hacking at the News Of The World.

The paper's former editor, Colin Myler, and its legal manager, Tom Crone, yesterday contradicted evidence given by Mr Murdoch to Parliament that he had been unaware that voicemail interception at the paper had gone beyond one rogue reporter.

Mr Murdoch said afterwards he stood by his version of events and had been "absolutely clear and consistent". It will now fall the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee to decide which version of events to believe.

If their report concludes Mr Murdoch, pictured, misled them it would almost certainly make his position as successor to his father untenable in light of US investigations into the scandal which has already cost News Corp one of its newspapers, two of its top executives and full ownership of BSkyB.

Last night sources on the committee suggested they were likely to recall Mr Murdoch when they meet next Tuesday to respond to the allegations made by Mr Myler and Mr Crone before writing their report.

It is the men's evidence about a crucial 15-minute meeting they held with Mr Murdoch in 2008 that will be central to the committee's deliberations.

Among other revelations in another day of drama it emerged that:

* Mr Crone saw a dossier commissioned by a senior News International executive into the private lives of lawyers acting for victims of phone-hacking.

* Andy Coulson, former News Of The World editor, tried to persuade executives to re-employ disgraced royal editor Clive Goodman after he had been jailed for hacking.

* News International failed to examine any internal email related to phone hacking written before the arrest of Mr Goodman. This would also appear to contradict evidence given by Mr Murdoch in evidence to the committee.

* Mr Crone told the committee that he had been passed details of an email which – for the first time – showed staff at the News Of The World had been aware that the phone of the former Professional Footballers' Association boss Gordon Taylor had been hacked.