Despite his best efforts to avoid incriminating himself in Parliament, James Murdoch's testimony has been seriously challenged by two former News of the World senior executives. If Murdoch's account is proven false, the ramifications will be nothing short of devastating. From the Guardian:
Tom Watson, a member of the culture, media and sport, committee and a leading critic of the Murdochs in relation to the phone-hacking scandal, wrote to the Met in light of the public challenge by two former News of the World senior executives to Murdoch's evidence to the committee on Tuesday.
News Corporation's deputy chief operating officer told MPs that he was unaware of an email suggesting hacking at the paper was more widespread when he agreed a reported £700,000 out-of-court settlement with Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, in 2008.
The existence of the email, known as the "for Neville" email because of its links to the paper's former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, is thought to have been critical in News International's decision to pay Taylor the money in an out-of-court settlement after he threatened to sue the paper.
Murdoch has stood by his testimony, but it could mean that he will be investigated for perverting the cause of justice. As Andrew Sullivan writes:
The sheer size of the payment, as the NYT notes, is far, far beyond the usual damages for phone-hacking. It was kept within a very tight circle. Now that circle has broken open, who knows what else will emerge? It seems to any casual observer like an obvious piece of hush-money, which puts James Murdoch in a criminal conspiracy.
As I have stated before, the phone hacking scandal has really only just begun. The more we learn, the further up the food chain the criminality seems to get. And at some point, both Murdochs will be implicated in serious wrong doings. James is up first, and who knows how long it will be before Rupert is engulfed in the fire that is rapidly incinerating his empire.