News Int had Watson under surveillance

LINKLATERS have confirmed Tom Watson MP was put under surveillance for a week in 2009 by a private investigator working for the now defunct News of the World.

A letter sent to Parliament by lawyers representing News Corp verified that Watson, who has been Labour MP for West Bromwich East since 2001, was placed under surveillance by former police officer Derek Webb between 28 September and 2 October 2009.

The letter was written in reply to information sought by the Commons culture, media and sport committee, on which Watson is sitting, following allegations that private investigators had targeted all the members of the select committee investigating the phone-hacking scandal.

The letter read: “[News Corp’s management and standards committee] The MSC’s present understanding is that three employees [of News International] were involved in commissioning this surveillance. We do not think it appropriate to name the individuals involved given the ongoing police investigations.”

Linklaters said they had discussed this decision with the Metropolitan Police, who shared the view.

However, the MSC said they had “seen no information to suggest that any other member of the Committee (or their family or friends) was under surveillance.”

The letter also shed light on an agreement negotiated in February 2010 by Rebekah Brooks, then chief executive of NotW, which outlined that Max Clifford would “help with stories and would be paid a retainer of £200,000 per annum for two years.”

Tom Watson offended James Murdoch last month by likening News International to the mafia.

FAST FACTS | HACKING FALLOUT

● News of the World was closed down on 7 July due to allegations of phone hacking.
● James Murdoch, who has since resigned as chairman of News Group Newspapers, has appeared twice in front of the select committee.