Murdoch junior is prepped for 'assault on credibility'

 

James Murdoch is being prepped by a litigation specialist to help explain why he failed to tell MPs of discussions he had with the News of the World editor on the "options" they faced over phone hacking.

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The News International (NI) chairman appears today for the second time before the Commons Culture Committee, which includes Labour MP Tom Watson. Jeremy Sandelson, head of litigation for law firm Clifford Chance, has been tutoring James Murdoch to expect what one MP predicted would be "an assault on his credibility".

Key to the anticipated attack is a newly-published note of a 2008 conversation between NI's former solicitor, Julian Pike, and the last editor of the NOTW, Colin Myler.

During his last appearance before the committee, Mr Murdoch said a meeting on 10 June only concerned his approval of a confidential £725,000 payment to football union boss Gordon Taylor. He made no mention of the earlier meeting with Mr Myler.

He will have to account for the apparent contradictions in his account, which fails to mention discussing the views of a "silk" with Mr Myler – assumed to be Michael Silverleaf QC; that he "didn't believe" hacking had become a "culture" in the NOTW newsroom; and that an investigation into three newsdesk journalists at the tabloid had taken place.

The committee is also to focus on the written judgement given to NI by Mr Silverleaf before the 10 June, 2008 meeting. As chairman, James Murdoch would have been expected to know of the "overwhelming evidence" mentioned by the QC that more than one journalist was involved in "illegal inquiries".

Committee bingo: What's James likely to say to MPs this time?

He's facing another tough – and no doubt long – session before the Media Select Committee today. To liven things up if you're watching at home, give yourself a point if he uses any of these phrases:

Did not have direct knowledge

No recollection

Can you repeat?

Difficult for me to comment

Regret

Financial quantum

Not in a position to answer

Humble

Before I was involved

Happy to supply awritten answer

Co-operate fully

Matters for current criminal investigations

Not to my knowledge

Approval threshold

Procedural question

Due process

Transparency

If I can clarify

Documentary information

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