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Murdoch faces fresh claims of misleading parliament

James Cusick and Cahal Milmo in Los Angeles

Already under threat of a mini-revolution when his company's shareholders meet in Los Angeles tomorrow, News Corp's European boss James Murdoch is facing fresh allegations in Westminster that he misled MPs.

Pressure on Mr Murdoch to defend the account he gave to parliament this summer about how much he knew about phone-hacking inside News International (NI) increased after it was revealed yesterday that he held more than one meeting with senior NI executives following the discovery of an email revealing that voicemail interceptions at the 'News of the World' went beyond one reporter.

Julian Pike, a partner with Farrer & Co, until last week NI's lawyers in civil damages claims, accused Mr Murdoch of "misrepresenting" events.

In previous accounts given to the culture committee, and in later written testimony, Mr Murdoch denied he had any knowledge of a key piece of evidence that led to NI agreeing a £725,000 (?860,000) out-of-court settlement for Gordon Taylor.

He has stated previously that the first meeting he attended that discussed the Taylor case was on June 10, 2008. Mr Pike's testimony challenges him to explain why he made no mention of an earlier meeting held on May 27 with the then editor of the 'NOTW', Colin Myler.

His account of the key June meeting also conflicts with versions given by NI's former legal boss, Tom Crone, and Mr Myler. Both claim that during the June meeting they discussed the use of phone hacking going beyond a rogue reporter -- former royal correspondent Clive Goodman -- and that this was the reason they were asking Mr Murdoch to approve the payout.

Mr Pike told the committee he had been copied into a briefing note specifically prepared for Mr Myler by Mr Crone, three days before the 'NOTW' editor was due to meet Mr Murdoch on May 27.

Although it did not specifically mention 'For Neville' -- understood to refer to the 'NOTW' reporter, Neville Thurlbeck -- according to Mr Pike, it revealed that the practice of illegal interceptions had spread. (© Independent News Service)

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