A tough day at News International. The UK newspaper division of News Corp. announced it will layoff around 110 of its 3,000 employees this financial year as it weathers its phone hacking and police bribery scandal. The papers affected include The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times. "Our industry is changing rapidly, and like other media organisations we must continually evolve how we work," said News International chief executive Tom Mockridge. Meanwhile, four ex-News International executives appeared before parliament today, giving statements that "cast doubt on key aspects of the testimony given by the Murdoch family earlier this summer," reports the Associated Press. The hearing seeks to determine if News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch and his son James misled Parliament or worse, tried to cover up the phone hacking scandal.
Mark Lewis, the lawyer representing a number of News of the World phone hacking victims, tells Bloomberg “the hearing could be damaging for James -- it could effectively finish his career.” Thus far, the most damaging information from the hearing has come from Jonathan Chapman, the former director of legal affairs at News International who said Rupert Murdoch misled Parliament when he placed the blame on Harbottle & Lewis, a London law firm, for not revealing the gravity of the scandal in 2007. "I don't think Mr. Murdoch had his facts right," Chapman told Parliament today. "He was wrong." The Associated Press lays out the other contradictions uncovered in the hearing today:
The evidence in question was an email carrying the transcript of an illegally intercepted conversation and marked "for Neville" — an apparent reference to the News of the World's chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck. Because it apparently implicates others in the hacking, the email has the potential to undermine News International's fiercely held contention that one reporter alone, Clive Goodman, had engaged in phone hacking.
If Rupert Murdoch's son James knew about the email — and was aware of its implication — it would lend weight to the suggestion that he had approved a massive payoff to one employee in an effort to bury the scandal. James Murdoch has said earlier that he was not aware of the email at the time, but former News International legal adviser Tom Crone and Colin Myler, a former editor at News of the World, contradicted him in Tuesday's testimony.
"I told him about the document," Crone insisted, adding there could be no doubt that "this document meant that News of the World had a wider problem and that we had to get out of it."