Ex-paper boss hits back on hacking
Former News International boss Les Hinton has hit back at a report by MPs on the phone hacking scandal, accusing them of "misreading" evidence.
The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee report accused Mr Hinton of "selective amnesia" during his evidence to its investigation into phone hacking.
The report, published on May 1, claimed he misled Parliament and was "complicit" in a cover-up of the true extent of phone hacking at the News of the World, which was initially blamed on a single rogue reporter. Mr Hinton disputed the findings in a statement issued on the day the report was published.
He has now released a more detailed response, which he has sent to the committee's chairman John Whittingdale. In it, he says of the committee's findings: "They are based on a misreading of evidence, and on a selective and misleading analysis of my testimonies to your committee."
He goes on to the claim that the report's conclusions "rest on a highly selective reading of the record, and unsupportable leaps in logic and inference". And he insists "there is nothing credible ... to suggest that I was anything but candid with the committee".
The report concluded that Rupert Murdoch's News International had misled the hacking inquiry in a "blatant fashion". Opposition MPs on the committee also branded Mr Murdoch as unfit to be in charge of a major media firm, although Tory members refused to support this.
Mr Hinton, former News International executive chairman and for many years Mr Murdoch's right-hand man, misled the committee during its 2009 investigation into hacking, MPs said earlier this month.
They claimed he did not tell the truth about the settlement, which included legal fees, paid to former News of the World royal reporter Clive Goodman after he was convicted of intercepting voicemails. He also misled MPs about the extent of his knowledge of allegations that phone hacking spread beyond Mr Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
Mr Hinton insists he was clear about his role in authorising the payoff, adding that there was "nothing novel or sinister" about the process or his account of it.
In the robust rebuttal letter, Mr Hinton questions the impartiality of the committee, which was deeply divided over elements of the report, and claims that "matters have gone seriously awry". "It is hard to avoid the view that the committee has sometimes allowed preconceived judgments to cloud its objectivity and sense of fairness."