The House of Commons Committee of Privileges has found that former News of the World editor Colin Myler and former Legal Manager Tom Crone misled the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee when giving evidence about phone hacking.
In a 121 page report [pdf], the Committee of Privileges found that:
- Mr Myler misled the Culture, Media and Sport Committee by “answering questions falsely about [his] knowledge of evidence that other News of the World employees had been involved in phone‐hacking and other wrongdoing“.
- Mr Crone misled the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in 2009 by giving a counter impression of the significance of confidentiality in the Gordon Taylor settlement.
- Mr Crone misled the Culture, Media and Sport Committee by “answering questions falsely about [his] knowledge of evidence that other News of the World employees had been involved in phone‐hacking and other wrongdoing“.
As a result, the Committee found that Mr Myler and Mr Crone were in contempt of the House of Commons.
The Committee also found that:
- There was insufficient evidence to find that Mr Crone sought to mislead the Culture, Media and Sport Committee about the commissioning of surveillance.
- The allegation that Les Hinton sought to mislead the Culture, Media and Sport Committee as to the extent of the pay‐off to Clive Goodman and his own role in authorising the payments is not significantly more likely than not to be true.
- The evidence that Mr Hinton misled the Culture, Media and Sport Committee about the extent of his knowledge of allegations that phone‐hacking extended beyond Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire to others at the News of the World did not meet the standard of proof set for a finding of contempt.
- While the Culture, Media and Sport Committee was sceptical about Mr Hinton’s memory, there is no evidence that he misled the Committee in relation to his role in the payment of legal fees or the fact that he authorised the payments to Mr Goodman to settle his Employment Tribunal claim.
- There is insufficient evidence of a breach of Parliamentary privilege on the part of News International (now News UK). As such, the Committee did not consider News International to have committed a contempt.
The Committee recommended that Mr Myler and Mr Crone be formally admonished for their conduct.
Neither Mr Myler nor Mr Crone accepted the findings of the Committee. Mr Hinton issued a statement describing the findings as “too little too late”.
Commenting on the report, Hacked Off – the campaign group originally set up in response to revelations of phone hacking at the News of the World, issued a statement pointing out that the report was
“just the latest evidence that the full truth has yet to come out about the industrial scale illegality at the News of the World (and potentially The Sun) under the editorships of Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, and the conspiracy to cover up this wrongdoing by News International Executives”.
It said that only Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry would be able uncover the full truth and true extent of the criminality and hold those who are responsible to account.
There were news items about the report of the Committee in the Guardian, the Daily Mail, the FT, the Mirror and the Daily Telegraph. All these papers led on the findings against Mr Myler and Mr Crone.
The story in the Times was headlined “News International clear of contempt” [£]- and only mentioned Messrs Myler and Crone in the seventh paragraph. The Sun’s had a piece by Tom Newton Dunn with the headline: “Hacking Sham Trial: Ex-News International boss blast Parliament’s ‘back to front idea of justice’ after being clear of misleading MPs”.