New emails released by Rupert Murdoch's news empire yesterday appeared to cast further doubt on his son James's assertion that he received little briefing from News of the World executives prior to authorising a massive payment to a victim of phone hacking.
James Murdoch has previously said that he had only one "substantive" meeting in June 2008 to discuss the settlement of a civil privacy case brought by Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, whose voicemails had been illegally accessed by the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
On 10 November this year, asked whether there had been an earlier meeting, Mr Murdoch told the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee: "Neither [News of the World editor Colin] Myler nor I recall that meeting, conversation, telephone call or whatever it might have been. As I testified, the first and only substantive meeting and conversation that I recall about the matter was the 10 June meeting with Mr Crone and Mr Myler, although I cannot rule our whether or not he called me, or got me in a hallway or something like that, for a brief conversation."
Yesterday, however, two emails from May 2008 suggested that Mr Murdoch, then NI's chairman, had discussed the case with Mr Myler at an earlier face-to-face meeting on 27 May.
At 9.25am on that day, Mr Myler's secretary emailed Mr Murdoch saying: "Colin Myler would like 10 minutes with you today."
Nine minutes later, Mr Murdoch replied: "OK".
Although the emails do not confirm the meeting actually took place, they suggest Mr Murdoch was more fully briefed than he has so far admitted on the circumstances which led to agreeing to pay Mr Taylor £425,000 – a record privacy payout and almost double the £250,000 a QC estimated a judge would award if the case reached court.
News International sources said: "The email from Mr Myler confirmed a previous acceptance from Mr Murdoch that he may have discussed the Gordon Taylor case with the News of the World editor prior to the full meeting on 10 June." It is understood Mr Murdoch believes the email is consistent with his testimony that the only "substantive" discussion he had concerning the six-figure settlement took place with Mr Myler and Mr Crone on 10 June.
Rupert Murdoch's Management and Standards Committee released the emails to the Commons Culture Committee yesterday – just as NI announced it had settled seven further cases brought by victims, including that of Paul Dadge, who was caught up in London's 7/7 terrorist attacks.
The other settlements involved the former Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten, the TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson, model Abi Titmuss, the theatrical agent Michele Milburn, Princess Diana's boyfriend James Hewitt and Calum Best, the son of the footballer George.
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