'Smoking Gun' Letter Redacted By News of World Publisher Said Editors Knew of Phone Hacking in 2007

Updated: Contradicting claims by other News Corp. employees and even publisher Rupert Murdoch and his son James that they were unaware until later of alleged widespread telephone hacking at the News of the World, a former reporter for the British tabloid has contended in a letter that the intrusions were discussed at editorial meetings in 2007.

It is likely that witnesses, including the Murdochs, may be recalled by Parliament to see what light can be shed on the discrepancy, reports Bloomberg.

Former royal family reporter Clive Goodman, who was jailed for his role in the phone hacking, made the allegations about others’ knowledge of the hacking in a 2007 letter to News International executives that was made public today, along with other material, by a committee of United Kingdom lawmakers, according to CNN. News International is a subsidiary of News Corp., a U.S. company.

Goodman “made allegations that the whole editorial team at the tabloid were involved in discussions around phone hacking at the time that Andy Coulson was the editor of the paper,” said lawmaker Tom Watson of the Labor Party. “If accurate, the whole foundation of the company’s defense for the past three years collapses.”

While the Harbottle & Lewis law firm gave the committee an unredacted version of the letter, reports the Guardian, another copy was provided to lawmakers by News International with the information about the alleged discussion of telephone hacking at editorial meetings omitted, the newspaper says.

Pro Publica provides copies of various redacted versions of the letter, as the Telegraph notes.

Another Guardian article calls the letter a smoking gun that is still hot, saying “there is a devastating line in every paragraph. For years, News International has insisted it had one rotten apple in the newsroom: Goodman. Now it appears that all along it has been sitting on a letter which explicitly claims that the entire newsroom was rotten. The letter also alleges that [the paper’s former lawyer, Tom] Crone and Coulson offered Goodman his job back if he did not implicate the paper or its staff in his mitigation plea.”

Additional coverage:

Bloomberg: “Rupert Murdoch ‘Confused,’ Misled U.K. Parliament, [Law] Firm Says”

Mirror: “Coulson faces new hacking questions”

Telegraph: “Phone hacking: News International accused of cover-up after letter claims Coulson ‘knew of hacking’”

Wall Street Journal (sub. req.): “Letter Suggests Hacking ‘Widely Discussed’ at News of the World”

Last updated at 4:12 p.m. to link to Pro Publica post and Telegraph article pointing it out.

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