* Documents handed over to parliamentary committee
* James Murdoch will face tough questioning next week
* Phone-tapping scandal forced closure of tabloid
By Mark Hosenball
LONDON, Nov 1 A law firm which represented
Rupert Murdoch's London tabloids has turned over to the British
parliament documents which could embarrass his son James when he
returns to testify before a committee investigating a
Parliamentary and company sources told Reuters that Farrer &
Co, a London law firm which until recently represented Murdoch's
News Group properties in phone-hacking litigation, gave the
material on Monday to the Culture, Media and Sport committee,
which has summoned James Murdoch to testify on Nov. 10.
People working for the now-closed News of the World tabloid
owned by News Corp are alleged to have hacked the phones of
celebrities and victims of crime in search of exclusive stories.
As described during testimony in October before the
committee by Farrer & Co lawyer Julian Pike, the documents are
expected to raise questions about an account James Murdoch, the
presumed heir to the News Corp empire, gave during an
appearance with his father before the committee.
James Murdoch told the committee in July he did not remember
being briefed about settling a phone-hacking claim brought by
Gordon Taylor, head of the English soccer players' union, until
a meeting on June 10, 2008, with Colin Myler, then News of the
World editor and Tom Crone, the tabloid's in-house lawyer.
But Pike told the committee last month that he had notes of
a meeting between Myler and Murdoch on May 27, 2008, about the
case. Pike said: "27 May was probably the first time James
Murdoch had been given a briefing about the cases."
"So James Murdoch has mis-recalled the sequence of events in
that regard ?" Pike was asked by Damian Collins, a member of the
"I think so, yes," Pike replied.
The payout to Taylor was agreed at the June 10 meeting.
Pike said that on May 24, three days before the meeting with
James Murdoch, Crone sent a briefing note to Myler preparing him
for the meeting. Pike said that Crone sent a copy of the
briefing memo to him at Farrer & Co.
Pike said the briefing note referred to the fact that a 2005
e-mail apparently incriminating more than one News of the World
journalist in voice-mail hacking had been disclosed to the
company. Pike said the briefing note did not, however, mention
the name of Neville Thurlbeck, the News of the World's chief
reporter, who is now alleged to have been the person to whom the
message in question, now referred to by investigators as the
"For Neville" e-mail, was addressed.
Pike also indicated to the committee he had a note of a
telephone call he had with Myler after the editor's meeting with
James Murdoch, as well as billing records related to these
Pike told the committee that legal privilege covering notes
in Farrer & Co's possession related to the May 27 James Murdoch
meeting with Myler had been waived and that he would therefore
be able to disclose the documents to the committee.
On Tuesday, a parliamentary source said the material had
been received in hard copy form, and might be published on the
committee's website later in the day.
A spokesperson for News International told Reuters neither
the company nor James Murdoch had any comment on the disclosure
of the documents or their content.
During his testimony in July, James Murdoch was asked by
committee member Tom Watson if he, before approving a
substantial settlement payment to Taylor, had seen or been "made
aware of the full Neville e-mail, the transcript of the hacked
James Murdoch replied: "No, I was not aware of that at the
Subsequently, Murdoch sent the committee a written statement
that, "Prior to the meeting on 10 June 2008, I do not recall
being given any briefing nor do I recall Mr. Crone or Mr. Myler
referring to, or showing me ... documents during the meeting."