Calls for police to look into James Murdoch's disputed evidence

Scotland Yard considering action after request from Tom Watson

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The Independent Online

James Murdoch could face questioning from the police over claims he made to Parliament about an email showing that hacking at the News of the World was not confined to a single "rogue reporter".

The Labour MP Tom Watson contacted Scotland Yard after two former senior executives at the paper publicly challenged Mr Murdoch's evidence to the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee earlier this week.

Scotland Yard confirmed that it had received a letter from the MP, which it said was "being considered".

In his evidence to the committee on Tuesday, Mr Murdoch said he had been unaware of an email suggesting hacking at the paper was more widespread when he agreed a reported £700,000 out-of-court settlement with Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, in 2008.

But in a statement on Thursday night, Colin Myler, the former editor of the paper, and Tom Crone, its former legal manager, said Mr Murdoch was "mistaken" and that they had informed him of the email, which had been obtained by Mr Taylor's lawyers.

Mr Murdoch, News Corp's deputy chief operating officer, said he stood by his original evidence.

Yesterday David Cameron piled further pressure on Mr Murdoch when he said: "Clearly, James Murdoch has got questions to answer in Parliament, and News International has got some big issues to deal with."

Mr Watson, a member of the committee, said the police involved in the inquiry into phone hacking now needed to investigate what happened as a matter of urgency.

He said: "It shows that he [James Murdoch] not only failed to report a crime to the police, but, because there was a confidentiality clause involved in the settlement, it means that he bought the silence of Gordon Taylor, and that could mean that he is facing investigation for perverting the course of justice."

The email at the centre of the latest controversy contained transcripts of hacked phone messages. Critics of News International say it shows that, at the time of the settlement with Mr Taylor in 2008, it was known within the company that the practice was not confined to the former royal editor Clive Goodman and the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, said: "I think that people will want to look at the comments that were made and want to resolve the different versions of events that we've seen. In the end, this is going to be a matter for the police, but I think the chair of the Culture Select Committee, John Whittingdale, is right to now inquire of James Murdoch to try and reconcile this discrepancy."

Mr Whittingdale said Mr Murdoch would be asked about the allegations.

"We were going to ask James Murdoch in any case to supply us with additional information and we will certainly be asking him to address this point when he does so," he said.

In a separate development last night, it emerged that Lord Justice Leveson, who will chair the phone-hacking inquiry, twice attended events at the home of Matthew Freud, the husband of Elisabeth Murdoch.

The Cabinet Office confirmed that the men first met in February 2010 at an Oxford dinner where Mr Freud offered to work pro-bono on promoting public confidence in sentencing. They then met on two further occasions for evening events at Mr Freud's London home in July and January.

Government sources stressed there had been 50 or 60 other people present at the time.