NI executives to be challenged on gagging clauses


MPs are to ask former News of the World executives this week whether phone-hacking victims have been offered substantially increased cash settlements from Rupert Murdoch's News International in return for signing gagging agreements.

The Independent understands that Tom Crone, the former head lawyer for the defunct newspaper, and Jonathan Chapman, NI's former head of legal affairs, will face questions from the Commons Media Select Committee about claims that the company has paid up to 10 times the normal settlement to successful hacking claimants who agree to a confidentiality clause.

James Murdoch admitted in a letter to the committee last month that Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, was paid £700,000 in 2008 in return for signing a confidentiality agreement. Mr Murdoch, who was chief executive of NI at the time, had previously insisted that the high payment had not been linked to a gagging clause.

MPs, who will also question the former NOTW editor Colin Myler and the former NI head of human resources Daniel Cloke at an evidence session tomorrow, want to know if the precedent set by Mr Taylor's case has been following in the burgeoning number of damages claims being brought against the company by celebrities and public figures.

Confidentiality clauses are common in legal settlements but it is claimed that offers of around £100,000 have been made where victims of voicemail interception sign the gagging deal while the offer made to claimants without the agreement can be as little as £10,000 or £20,000.

A source said: "These are dramatically different sums. Is News International seeking to buy the silence of claimants?"

A number of celebrities whose phone messages were targeted by the private detective Glenn Mulcaire on behalf of the defunct Sunday title have already reached settlements with NI, including the actress Sienna Miller and the football pundit Andy Gray, although neither of these cases involved a gagging clause.

NI announced in June this year that it was setting up a voluntary compensation scheme overseen by a former High Court judge in which "have the option of obtaining compensation on a confidential basis".

The company declined to comment further last night.

Murdoch's men facing questions

Tom Crone, former NOTW chief lawyer, and Colin Myler, former editor

Both men have emerged as the key critics of the testimony of James Murdoch to MPs in July, suggesting that the media mogul's son misled MPs when he said he had no recollection of the "for Neville" email that showed knowledge of phone hacking at the News of the World spread beyond a single rogue reporter.

But they face questions about whether they knew about the alleged cover-up at the defunct newspaper, in particular because they were aware of the "for Neville" email, which they insist was discussed with Mr Murdoch.

Mr Crone will also be asked about his knowledge of the use of private investigators to look into the personal lives of lawyers bringing damages claims against the paper.

Jonathan Chapman, former NI head of legal affairs

He will be asked about a 2007 review of internal emails carried out by law firm Harbottle & Lewis. James Murdoch told MPs this review was relied upon to show NI had carried out a full investigation. Mr Chapman has written to MPs to say the review was nothing of the sort.

Daniel Cloke,former NI head of HR

He was the recipient of a letter in 2007 from the disgraced NOTW royal editor Clive Goodman stating that phone hacking was "widely discussed" during the paper's editorial meetings. MPs will want to know what action he took to ensure Goodman's claims were investigated.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot