Did They Try to Buy Silence? Phone Hackers' Legal Fees Paid after They Were Convicted
Byline: Tim Shipman, Daniel Martin
THE Murdoch empire continued to pay the legal fees of the two men jailed for phone hacking Prince William even after they were convicted.
James Murdoch revealed yesterday that News International is still funnelling cash to the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
And he indicated that money has also been paid to disgraced former royal editor Clive Goodman.
The admission was the most dramatic revelation during three hours of testimony by Mr Murdoch and his father Rupert.
It immediately stoked the suspicion that the company has sought to buy the silence of the men at the heart of the scandal.
Mr Murdoch junior spent the hearing trying to rescue both his company and his father from tough questioning, smoothly responding to MPs' inquiries with a combination of denial and management speak.
Goodman and Mulcaire were both jailed in 2007 for intercepting the voicemails of members of the royal household.
But James Murdoch stunned MPs when he said explicitly: 'Certain legal fees were paid by for Mr Mulcaire by the company and I was surprised and shocked to learn that as you are.'
But after being asked about Mr Goodman hiring an expensive lawyer, he referred to payments going to 'those' men in the plural, indicating that he meant Mr Goodman as well.
He said the money was handed over 'in 'To most people, it smells a bit' accordance with legal counsel and strong advice' but both he and his father said they were trying to put a stop to the payments.
Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks later confirmed that it had paid the legal fees of former News of the World editor Andy Coulson even after he left the company and added: 'I think the same for Clive Goodman. On Glenn Mulcaire, I think his legal fees would be paid when he was a co-defendant in the civil cases.'
Labour MP Paul Farrelly said: 'People might ask why a company would wish to pay the legal fees of a convicted felon, who's been intimately involved in the destruction of your reputation, if it were not to buy his co-operation and silence.'
While Rupert Murdoch was blunt but frank, his son continually denied knowledge of phone hacking and illegal practices at the News of the World until the end of last year. …