Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Murdoch Accuses Lawyer of Cover-Up; Hacking Not Mentioned to Execs, He Says

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Murdoch Accuses Lawyer of Cover-Up; Hacking Not Mentioned to Execs, He Says

Article excerpt

RUPERT Murdoch has said he was sorry he did not close the News of the World years earlier and claimed that executives at the paper "covered up" the phone-hacking scandal.

At the Leveson Inquiry yesterday he blamed "one or two"senior figures at the now-defunct Sunday tabloid for "taking charge" of hiding evidence of wrong-doing and for misleading him.

But former NotW legal manager Tom Crone accused Mr Murdoch of a "shameful lie" after the tycoon suggested "a clever lawyer" was behind the cover-up.

Finishing his two days of evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into Press standards, Mr Murdoch said the hacking scandal would be "a blot on my reputation for the rest of my life".

He admitted that he failed to keep a close enough eye on what was happening at the News of the World, which was closed last July after disclosures that it illegally intercepted murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's voicemails.

Mr Murdoch, 81, claimed he was "misinformed" about the scale of hacking at the paper after royal editor Clive Goodman was jailed in January 2007 for listening to royal aides' phone messages. He said: "I blame one or two people for that, who perhaps I shouldn't name because for all I know they may be arrested yet. But there is no question in my mind that maybe even the editor, but certainly behind that, someone, took charge of a cover-up which we were victim to and I regret."

He suggested that this attempt to hide the extent of the criminality emanated "from within the News of the World".

He said: "There were one or two very strong characters there who I think had been there many, many years and were friends of the journalists.

"The person I am thinking of was a friend of the journalists, drinking pal, and was a clever lawyer and forbade them to go and see the evidence, or there have been statements reporting that this person forbade people to go and report to Mrs Brooks or James (Murdoch)."

Mr Crone said in a statement after the hearing that Mr Murdoch "could only" be referring to him.

The lawyer went on: "His assertion that I 'took charge of a cover-up' in relation to phone-hacking is a shameful lie. …

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