Former reporter’s explosive letter spells bad news for News Corp. in phone-hacking saga

Joe Pompeo
Media Reporter
The Cutline

A letter released Tuesday by the British parliamentary committee that is probing allegations of past criminal behavior by journalists at News International, the British arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, suggests that executives within the company knew more about the phone-hacking at the now-defunct tabloid News of the World than they've let on, and may have organized a cover-up.

The letter, dated March 2, 2007, was written by Clive Goodman, the former royal correspondent at News of the World, who spent time in jail for his role in tapping into the voicemail of news subjects. Goodman, portraying himself as a scapegoat, wrote the letter to appeal the termination of his employment.

"The decision is perverse in that the actions leading to this criminal charge were carried out with the full knowledge and support of [redacted names of senior newsroom employees]," it states. "Payment for Glen Mulcaire's services was arranged by [redacted name of senior newsroom employee]. The decision is inconsistent because [redacted names News of the World journalists] were carrying out the same illegal procedures."

Goodman also claims the phone-hacking was "widely discussed in the daily editorial conference, until explicit reference to it was banned by the editor."

The editor of News of the World at the time was Andy Coulson, who went on to become the press secretary to Prime Minister David Cameron, and resigned earlier this year. He was arrested in July, along with the former News International chief Rebekah Brooks, in connection with the phone-hacking allegations.

Current and former top News Corp. executives have insisted that the phone-hacking at News of the World was confined to a few rogue actors, and that company bigwigs were unaware it was going on. News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son, James, testified to this effect when they were called before Parliament last month. Coulson has likewise denied any wrong-doing, or knowledge thereof.

But as The Guardian's Nick Davies writes: "The claims are acutely troubling for the prime minister, David Cameron, who hired Coulson as his media adviser on the basis that he knew nothing about phone hacking. And they confront Rupert and James Murdoch with the humiliating prospect of being recalled to parliament to justify the evidence which they gave last month on the aftermath of Goodman's allegations. ... Goodman's claims also raise serious questions about Rupert Murdoch's close friend and adviser, [former News International and Dow Jones boss] Les Hinton, who was sent a copy of the letter but failed to pass it to police."

You can read the full letter at The Guardian, as well as a timeline of News Corp's denials that phone hacking was widespread.