FORMER News Corp executives rounded on each other yesterday as the battle to lay the blame for the phone hacking scandal became increasingly bitter.
James Murdoch told a parliamentary committee the former legal head of News International, Tom Crone, and its former editor Colin Myler misled both him and parliament about how widespread phone hacking was at the News of the World. He said evidence given to the committee was “inconsistent, not right, and I dispute it.”
Crone responded last night by saying: “I can perfectly understand why James Murdoch felt the need to discredit Colin Myler and myself.
“The simple truth is that he was told by us in 2008 about the damning email and what it meant in terms of wider News of the World involvement... At best, his evidence on this matter was disingenuous.”
MPs cast doubt on Murdoch’s claims he did not question whether phone hacking went beyond a single rogue reporter, despite authorising a payment of some £725,000 to Professional Footballers’ Association boss Gordon Taylor.
Tom Watson earned himself a rebuke from Murdoch after branding him a “mafia boss” who fostered a culture of silence at News International. However, Murdoch offered a grovelling apology to Watson and others who were placed under surveillance by private investigators working for News International. Murdoch said the practice “is not something I condone, not something I have knowledge of and not something that has a place in the way we operate”.
Murdoch, the heir apparent to his father Rupert, now looks increasingly unlikely to one day assume the top job.