Leading article: Explanations are required over hacking

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There can be no excuses now. The latest revelations in the phone-hacking scandal have finally torpedoed News International's "rogue reporter" defence.

The allegations could not be more serious. Andy Coulson has said throughout he knew nothing of hacking while editor of the News of the World. But the letter from former royal correspondent Clive Goodman, published yesterday, claims hacking was "widely discussed" and that Mr Coulson said he could keep his job if he avoided implicating the paper at his trial. Either Mr Goodman is lying. Or Mr Coulson is.

The challenge to the Murdochs is no less devastating. Both father and son have cited Harbottle & Lewis in their "rogue reporter" claims. But the lawyers now say their inquiry was limited, and the use of its conclusions by the Murdochs "inaccurate and misleading".

The committee has already requested written clarification of parts of James Murdoch's testimony. Letters are not enough this time. No excuses. No delays. Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Andy Coulson must be summoned back to the House of Commons to explain themselves.

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