Around when James Murdoch was testifying to Parliament last November that he knew nothing of phone hacking at News of the World, which his father had already shuttered, investigators found a carton in the newspaper's locked offices that seemed to come from Colin Myler, the paper's editor and now at the New York Daily News. Inside, was a hard copy of an e-mail Myler had sent to Murdoch in June 2008 regarding allegations by football exec Gordan Taylor that his phone had been hacked: "Unfortunately it is as bad as we feared." In the message, Myler also asks if Murdoch could meet with him and the NotW's in-house lawyer to discuss the issue. A month later, Murdoch told a government panel that he hadn't read the entire e-mail chain and was still totally in the dark about the widespread use of phone hacking by News Corp. reporters.
But this e-mail, it seems, is at the heart of the ongoing investigation, including whether there was a top-level cover-up — a High Court judge recently lambasted the News Corp. division overseeing NotW and The Sun for its "startling approach" to e-mail and recommending that "they are to be treated as deliberate destroyers of evidence." He may have been referring, in part, to the suspiciously timed deletion of the abovementioned e-mail from James Murdoch's computer on January 15, 2011, as part of a suspiciously jargon-named "e-mail stabilization and modernization program." As the Times reports:
It is clear that on Jan. 15, when the deletion took place, the company knew it was facing civil and potentially criminal inquiries.
Further undermining Murdoch's denials was the $1.4 million phone hacking settlement he approved shortly after he'd received Myler's e-mail, and testimony from Myler that he had fully informed Murdoch of the more damaging aspects of the Taylor lawsuit. (In the e-mail chain is a message from the NotW's lawyer to Myler that included the line: "Broadly our Defence will accept that we knw of and made use of the voicemail information Mulcaire acquired ... " Glenn Mulcaire is a private investigator who worked for NotW.) And so the plot thickens.