Friday, September 9, 2011

#Hackgate: Les Hinton rejects Clive Goodman claims.

Former NI boss stands by evidence that he believed News of the World royal editor was 'only person' involved in phone hacking
Les Hinton has rejected Clive Goodman's claim that he was offered his job back as long as he did not implicate the News of the World at his trial. Photograph: Mark Lennihan/AP
Les Hinton, the former boss of News International, has dismissed an allegation by the former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman that the reporter was offered his job back after being imprisoned for phone hacking as long as he did not implicate the paper at his trial.

In a letter to MPs published on Friday, Hinton said he has no reason to believe that Goodman's claim was "accurate" or that there was any evidence to support his allegation.

Hinton added that he stands by evidence that he gave to a parliamentary committee in 2007 and 2009 in which he said he believed Goodman was "the only person" involved in phone hacking.

Hinton, a lifelong employee of News Corp who ended up as Rupert Murdoch's chief lieutenant until he resigned in July, made his comments in a letter to the Commons culture, sport and media select committee.

It is the first time he has said anything about the phone-hacking allegations since his previous appearances in front of the select committee in 2007 and 2009.

"I answered all questions truthfully and to the best of my knowledge," said Hinton.

It is his remarks about Goodman's claims that are most significant and indicate the legal line News International is likely to take in relation to the former royal editor's sensational claims.

Goodman's letter was written four years ago and was particularly important because it claimed phone hacking was "widely discussed" at editorial meetings chaired by the then editor Andy Coulson.

He also claimed Coulson offered to let him keep his job if he agreed not to implicate the paper in hacking when he came to court; and that his own hacking was carried out with "the full knowledge and support" of other senior journalists, whom he named.

Hinton said: "As for Mr Goodman's assertion that he had been promised he could come back to a job at the newspaper 'if [he] did not implicate the paper or any of its staff in [his] mitigation plea'. I had no reason to believe that his allegation was accurate, and am not aware of any evidence to support it.

Accordingly, I testified before the committee in 2009, no evidence was provided to me that the conduct of Mr Goodman had spread beyond him."

Earlier this week Crone said at a select committee hearing that Coulson was eager to re-hire Goodman even if he was convicted and jailed for phone-hacking offences.

However, he was not questioned about the claim that it was only if he promised not to implicate the paper at his trial.