On Tuesday 6 September 2011, the Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport met again to ask questions to those persons at News International who might be able to shine some light on who knew what about the phone hacking scandal and the settlements of the employment claim of Clive Goodman following his conviction in January 2007.
Jon Chapman, News International’s former Head of Legal Resources and Daniel Cloke, News International’s former Head of Human Resources, made much of their investigation into researching all the relevant emails and instructing Harbottle & Lewis, a well respected law firm, to get a proper second opinion. But it was Daniel Cloke who dropped the first bombshell. He told the Select Committee that the now infamous emails sent to Harbottle & Lewis were in fact, the emails for the 6 months prior to Clive Goodman’s conviction (see question 608 on Select Committee website). This is slightly odd given that this was a period when Goodman was not actually in the office having been arrested in August 2006, charged in November 2006 and convicted in January 2007. The date range is bizarre in the extreme. Was it a mistake? Did Cloke mean the 6 months prior to the arrest? This needs to be clarified.
The second bombshell that was dropped concerned the payments News International to Goodman after his conviction. There now appear to have been two, rather than the one which Rebekah Brookes mentioned in her letter to the Select Committee in November 2009. The Committee had asked News International to clarify the payments to Goodman. Brookes in her letter available here asked Chapman to respond. She said that she had asked Jon Chapman to deal with the question and went on to quote his response
Clive Goodman’s employment with News Group Newspapers Limited was terminated in early February 2007. Subsequently, he engaged a City law firm with a view to bringing employment tribunal proceedings, the primary claim being that News Group Newspapers Limited failed to follow the statutory dismissal and disciplinary procedure in relation to termination of his employment. …
Pursuant to the agreement, Mr Goodman was paid his notice and an agreed amount representing a possible compensatory award at tribunal ( which was some way below the £60,6oo limit on such awards).
In other words, the letter suggested that there had been a single payment consisting of a year’s salary, modest statutory compensation and legal costs in November 2007. However, an earlier payment of £90,000 was identified by James Murdoch in his letter to the Committee on 11 August 2011, available here . This payment would have been a few months after Goodman’s conviction.
Remarkably Daniel Cloke was, apparently, not even aware of the earlier £90,000 payment to Goodman in April 2007, but did admit that it was authorised by Les Hinton. His evidence is available here.
Why weren’t the Committee told about this secret payment in the November 2009 Brooks letter and what was the payment for? Was this hush money? Let’s hope that the Leveson Inquiry can get to the bottom of it.
Charlotte Harris is a media law Partner at Mishcon de Reya