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Ian Burrell: How an email 'for Neville' became a turning point

  • @iburrell

The "for Neville" email was released to News International by lawyers representing Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, who sued the company for damages in July 2007 after an earlier criminal case had heard that he was a victim of phone-hacking by the paper. That criminal case had led to the jailing of the paper's royal editor Clive Goodman in January 2007. In April 2008, James Murdoch – who had been put in charge of News International as the News Corp chief executive and chairman for Europe and Asia in December 2007 – authorised payment to Taylor, following consultation with the editor of the News of the World, Colin Myler, and the paper's general manager, Tom Crone.

The name of Neville Thurlbeck was drawn into the hacking affair in July 2009 when Nick Davies of The Guardian made MPs aware of the email in which a News of the World reporter sent the transcript of 35 voicemails "for Neville". Thurlbeck, who denied being involved in phone-hacking, continued to work as chief reporter on the News of the World, under the ultimate control of James Murdoch. In March 2008 the paper ran an exposé by Thurlbeck in which Max Mosley, the Formula One chief, was accused of taking part in a sado-masochistic orgy. In July of that year Mosley was awarded £60,000 damages for the paper's breach of his privacy. He has been arrested by the Operation Weeting team investigating phone hacking and is on police bail. Earlier this week it was revealed that he is a registered informant for the Metropolitan Police, which has apologised for its flawed original investigation into hacking.

News Corp last night issued a statement standing by the authenticity of James Murdoch's evidence.