James Murdoch recalled to parliament

By Ian Dunt

James Murdoch was recalled to answer questions in parliament today, after his own employees questioned his version of events in the phone-hacking row.

The recall, issued by the culture, media and sport committee this morning, was all but inevitable after Tom Crone, former News International legal manager, and Colin Myler, former News of the World editor, raised concerns about his evidence to MPs.

“James Murdoch is happy to appear in front of the committee again to answer any further questions members might have,” News International confirmed.

Rupert Murdoch's right-hand man, Les Hinton, and solicitors Farrers & Co and Mark Lewis will also be called to give evidence.

Mr Murdoch insisted he was only presented with evidence of widespread phone-hacking in January 2011, after civil cases threw up new evidence.

According to Mr Myler and Mr Crone, Mr Murdoch was told about it in spring 2008, during a meeting to discuss the 'For Neville' email.

The 'for Neville' email, which was described by committee chairman John Whittingdale as "one of the most critical pieces of evidence in the whole inquiry", reveals that a junior reporter was asked to transcribe intercepted voice communications.

It proves that at least one other person – the junior reporter – was aware of phone-hacking beyond the "one rogue reporter", Clive Goodman, who had been jailed for phone-hacking in 2006.

The email strongly suggests that someone else was aware of the practise because it contains a request for the transcript.

MPs pointed out that the subject line of For Neville is highly likely to refer to senior reporter Neville Thurlbeck, although he denies that the work was for him.

Mr Myler and Mr Crone said they brought the email to the attention of Mr Murdoch in a 15-minute meeting, because it showed that their ongoing privacy case with Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association, had to be settled out of court.

"It was clear evidence that phone hacking was taking place beyond Clive Goodman," Mr Crone said.

"It was the reason we had to settle the case and in order to settle the case, we had to explain the case to Mr Murdoch and get his authority to settle, so clearly it was discussed.

"I can't remember the conversation and there isn't a note of it. The conversation lasted about 15 minutes. It was discussed, but exactly what was said I can't remember."