News International Damages Testimony By Its Former Chief
Repeated assertions by former News International chief Rebekah Brooks that she knew nothing about voicemail hacking being conducted by reporters of the now-defunct NI tabloid News of the World have seemingly been undermined by NI itself. In a letter to the Commons Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee, it was revealed that Brooks personally negotiated a $1-million settlement with public relations executive Max Clifford after Clifford produced evidence that his voicemail had been intercepted, allowing him to obtain a court order that would have required private detective Glenn Mulcaire to name every News of the World reporter and executive who had ordered the hacking and everyone to whom he had given transcripts of the intercepted messages. Had that information become public, it would undoubtedly have exploded NI's claim at the time that voicemail hacking at the tabloid had been the work of one "rogue" reporter, working with Mulcaire. According to the letter, Brooks personally negotiated the settlement with Clifford last year, temporarily keeping a lid on the scandal. In her testimony before the committee Brooks made no mention of her role in the settlement, insisting that she was kept in the dark about the hacking. On Wednesday night, Tom Watson, a member of the committee, said that he was "surprised" that Brooks had remained silent about the settlement, "particularly now that News International have admitted that she was solely responsible for this deal, having never taken it before the company's board." (News International also confirmed Wednesday that a private detective was hired to put Watson under surveillance for five days in September and October 2009. It did not disclose who had ordered that Watson, a News Corp critic, be tailed.