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March 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Despite repeated assertions by News Corp executives, including James Murdoch, the former chairman of News International, which oversees the company’s British newspapers, that it intends to be “transparent” with the investigators probing the hacker scandal, yet another Murdoch-owned newspaper has been tainted by revelations of apparent cover-up of criminal conduct. Appearing before the inquiry on Thursday, Alastair Brett, former legal manager of the London Times, admitted that he had advised a reporter for the newspaper to avoid answering truthfully in a court case involving a police officer who had used the nom-de-web NightJack on his blog and whose identity the Times writer had exposed. It later emerged that the reporter, Patrick Foster, had illegally hacked into the email account of Richard Horton, the police blogger. Asked by the Leveson Inquiry why he allowed Foster to submit a statement to the court saying that he had used legal methods to ferret out Horton’s email address, Brett replied that he would otherwise have had “to tell the truth.” When counsel for the committee then asked, “What was the harm of him telling the truth?” Brett then replied, “He’d be prosecuted.” Brett also described how earlier the air was “blue with expletives” when Foster admitted the illegal hacking. Leveson read a portion of Foster’s statement that claimed he “felt sure that the blog was written by a real police officer” after doing some “research.” “That is utterly misleading, isn’t it?” Leveson remarked to Brett, who replied that it “certainly doesn’t give the full story.” News International later issued a statement saying that it regards Brett’s testimony as “a painful reminder of an occasion when the Times‘s conduct failed to meet the high standards expected of this newspaper.”