MPs split over disclosure of 'dynamite' hacking evidence

 

A committee of MPs investigating the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, which has received new evidence described by one member as "dynamite", is divided over whether to make the documents public this week.

The House of Commons Media, Culture and Sport Select Committee will meet today to decide whether to disclose submissions from key figures following claims that James Murdoch was "mistaken" in aspects of evidence he gave to MPs last month. The dossier includes responses by Mr Murdoch to additional questions from MPs, as well as testimony from the paper's head lawyer, Tom Crone, and Colin Myler, who edited the NOTW before it was closed by the Murdoch family's media empire, News Corporation.

It addresses the issue of whether Mr Murdoch knew of a crucial email which undermined the explanation that hacking was due to one "rogue reporter". Last week, Tom Watson, a Labour MP on the committee, said the documents were "dynamite" and he would vote for their disclosure. But The Independent understands that there is no unanimity among MPs about the timing of the publication of the documents, and some members are "reticent" about releasing them today. The committee will also decide whether to recall Mr Murdoch, but this may not happen until Parliament reconvenes next month.

Mr Murdoch, the boss of News Corp in Europe, stands by his testimony to MPs that he had no knowledge of the so-called "for Neville" email, which suggests that knowledge of hacking went beyond one reporter at the NOTW. But his assertion has been challenged by Mr Myler and Mr Crone, who say Mr Murdoch was aware of the email in 2008, when he signed off on a £700,000 out-of-court settlement with Gordon Taylor, head of the Professional Footballers' Association. The Independent understands that a submission has also been supplied to MPs by Harbottle & Lewis, the law firm which conducted a review of internal News International emails in 2007 and found they contained no evidence of "illegal actions".

Lord Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions, who reviewed the documents in May, said it was "blindingly obvious" that they held evidence of criminality.

In a separate development, Citigroup warned investors that Trinity Mirror, owner of the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror, could face serious hacking allegations. Citigroup cut its target price for shares in the company. Trinity Mirror strongly denied any wrongdoing by staff. It has asked its senior journalists for written undertakings that they had no knowledge of phone hacking or corrupt payments to police.