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September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Tom Watson

The telephone-hacking saga involving Rupert Murdoch’s News International, the umbrella group for his British news operations, took a new twist today (Thursday) when the London Independent disclosed that “up to a dozen” executives of N.I. were made aware by police as far back as 2006 that phone hacking at the now defunct News of the World involved more than a single “rogue” reporter, as the company continually maintained. According to the newspaper, Scotland Yard detectives met with Rebekah Brooks, who was then the editor of The Sun, another Murdoch-owned newspaper in London, to inform her that they had circumstantial evidence of additional illegal hacking by other reporters. She, in turn, reportedly contacted News International Legal Adviser Tom Crone, who then informed company executives about the meeting between police and Brooks. Among those executives, the Independent said, was Andy Coulson, who was then editor of the News of the World and who later became Prime Minister David Cameron’s communications director. Informed of the Independent’s findings, Labor MP Tom Watson, who has doggedly pressed the government’s investigation of the phone-hacking scandal, accused News Corp executives of failing to give a parliamentary inquiry the full facts when they appeared. Moreover, he added, “We also need to know who it was in the Metropolitan Police that was informing News International of the conduct of a criminal inquiry that was taking place. How could it be that NI were aware of the conduct of a police inquiry almost in real time?” In related matters: Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, has asked Scotland Yard officials to appear before the committee on Friday to explain why they attempted to force reporters for the Guardian newspaper to reveal their sources for reports about the scandal. reported that News Corp COO Chase Carey told an investors conference in New York that he has seen nothing to corroborate a report in the London Daily Mail claiming that NI reporters had hacked into the phones of family members of 9/11 victims. And Harold Evans, the former editor of Murdoch’s London Times, told the Guardian that he would not be surprised to see Murdoch sell his London newspapers now that his “power to intimidate a government” has been forfeited due to the scandal.