Ex-Reporter: Phone-Hacking ‘Widely Discussed’ at British Tabloid

Posted August 16th, 2011 at 10:55 am (UTC-5)
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Britain's Guardian newspaper has obtained a letter from a former News of the World reporter that says phone-hacking was “widely discussed” at the now-defunct tabloid.

In a letter written four years ago and published Tuesday by the Guardian, former reporter Clive Goodman said the illegal eavesdropping had “the full knowledge and support” of senior News of the World journalists. Goodman, who was jailed for hacking in 2007, argued in his letter that he should never have been fired because he was acting with the backing of those journalists. He said he had been told he could keep his job if he agreed not to implicate the newspaper.

The letter, to be released by parliament's media committee, threatens to undermine repeated denials by executives of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch's worldwide media conglomerate. News of the World was one of several news and entertainment outlets that were part of News Corporation.

British lawmakers said Tuesday it is likely that Murdoch's son, James, will be recalled to answer more questions about the phone-hacking scandal.

In testimony last month, James Murdoch, a News Corporation executive and heir apparent to his father's global media empire, said he was unaware of evidence of widespread phone-hacking at News of the World.

His testimony was disputed by a former editor at the tabloid and the former legal adviser at News International, the Murdochs' British subsidiary. Both said Murdoch was “mistaken” about not knowing about the extent of the phone-hacking.

Members of the parliamentary committee investigating the phone-hacking scandal said they have been unable to reconcile the contradictions between the men's statements.

Others arrested in connection with the scandal are former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, who went on to head communications for British Prime Minister David Cameron before resigning in January.

Goodman said the practice of hacking at the tabloid was widely discussed until then-editor Coulson banned it. Goodman said it was Coulson who offered to let him keep his job if he agreed not to implicate the newspaper.

News of the World shut down last month following allegations that journalists illegally accessed the cellphone voicemails of hundreds of celebrities, politicians, rival journalists and even murder victims. Employees of the newspaper also are suspected of bribing police for information.