A newly released letter from a former News of the World staffer says phone hacking was "widely discussed" at the paper's editorial meetings, and claims he was promised he could keep his job if he kept his mouth shut.
In a 2007 letter addressed to the paper's HR department, former royal correspondent Clive Goodman said he acted "with the full knowledge and support" of other senior journalists. "This practice was widely discussed in the daily editorial conference, until explicit reference to it was banned by [Andy Coulson]," said the paper's former editor, who went on to serve as an aide to prime minister David Cameron. Tom Watson, who questioned Rupert and James Murdoch last month, called the letter "absolutely devastating" to their defense.
"Clive Goodman's letter is the most significant piece of evidence that has been revealed so far," said Watson. "It completely removes News International's defense. This is one of the largest cover-ups I have seen in my lifetime." Goodman's letter can be seen in full here.
Goodman was imprisoned for four months after being convicted of phone hacking. The Guardian reports that he "was paid a full year's salary, worth £90,502.08, plus a further £140,000 in compensation as well as £13,000 to cover his lawyer's bill."
The documents undermine James Murdoch's testimony and repeated claims that he believed hacking at News of the World was limited to Goodman, who James has called a single "rogue" reporter. In his appearance before the committee last month, James claimed he was "not aware" of an email that showed the hacking to be widespread.
The letter also implicates News Corp. higher-up Les Hinton, a close friend of Rupert Murdoch's who has since resigned. He was sent a copy of the letter, but did not submit it to police. He went on to tell parliament that Andy Coulson was not involved and that Goodman acted alone. Parliament's Culture, Media, and Sport Committee will meet to decide whether the Murdochs and other News Corp. executives should be recalled to testify before parliament in September.