James Murdoch 'had to sign off hacking payouts over £250,000'
He has previously told MPs he was not aware of the details behind the Taylor deal
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Wednesday 19 October 2011
News International's lawyers needed the personal approval of James Murdoch to go beyond an official ceiling of about £250,000 when they were trying to settle the first major phone-hacking case with the football union boss, Gordon Taylor, it is claimed.
The lawyer NI instructed during the Taylor case, Julian Pike of the London firm Farrer & Co, will be asked about the ceiling today by MPs investigating the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
Mr Pike will also face questioning about a conversation alleged to have taken place between himself and Mr Taylor's lawyer, Mark Lewis. During discussions on the Taylor settlement, Mr Pike says he does not recall telling Mr Lewis that he was "negotiating with Murdoch" – a reference Mr Lewis understood to mean James, and not Rupert Murdoch, the head of the global media company. Mr Lewis, who represents a large number of phone-hacking victims seeking damages from NI, will also appear before the committee today.
The ceiling is significant because it suggests that James Murdoch, chief executive of News Corp's European division, was required to be aware of the full details behind the deal, which eventually resulted in a £725,000 out-of-court settlement for Mr Taylor. Mr Murdoch has previously told MPs that he was not aware of the details behind the Taylor deal.
News International sources insisted last night that approval of substantial legal settlements was not personally restricted to Mr Murdoch.
But The Independent has been told that "6th floor approval" was needed for any settlement above £250,000. This was an understood code that meant NI's lawyers needed the approval of Mr Murdoch. Mr Pike was scheduled to appear before the Commons Culture Committee before the announcement last week that NI had ended its relationship with Farrers as the law firm primarily dealing with the legal fallout from the illegal activities within NOTW.
An NI spokeswoman said a voluntary compensation scheme would be announced before the end of this month.
Emma Watson on Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak: 'Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated is reading the comments'
Victoria Justice on naked photo leak: 'Let me nip this in the bud right now – pun intended'
Ariana Grande nude photos leak: Pictures are completely fake, say representatives
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
Kate Upton nude photos leak: Model's spokespeople 'looking into' authenticity of indecent images
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
- 1 Emma Watson on Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak: 'Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated is reading the comments'
- 2 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Cee Lo Green: It is only rape if the victim is conscious
- 5 Nigerian witch-finder Helen Ukpabio threatens legal action against human rights organisations