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Email undermines James Murdoch's claims on phone hacking

By Cahal Milmo, James Cusick and James Tapsfield

James Murdoch's repeated assertion that he was never shown evidence that phone hacking at his company went beyond a “rogue reporter” was dramatically undermined last night.

An internal email that he was sent, suggesting hacking was “rife” at the News of the World and talking of a “nightmare scenario” of multiple victims, was released by a Commons committee.

The presumed heir to the Murdoch empire has, during two bruising appearances before MPs, insisted that he was not told of crucial information in 2008 that proved hacking was widespread at the Sunday tabloid.

He accused the paper's former editor, Colin Myler, and its chief lawyer, Tom Crone, of being “misleading” when they said he was made privy to those details.

But a News International email released yesterday challenges those claims. It shows that Mr Murdoch, who was in charge of the media group at the time, was provided with a chain of messages from Mr Myler and Mr Crone accepting that the NoTW had made use of intercepted voicemails left for Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of Professional Footballers' Association, and was facing a disastrous prospect of a public claim that it had covered up the true extent of hacking.

In a sign of the seriousness with which Mr Myler was taking the situation, he offered Mr Murdoch an “update” and warned: “Unfortunately it is as bad as we feared.”

The line suggests that, contrary to Mr Murdoch's repeated recollection, both men had already discussed the case in some depth.

Mr Murdoch claimed last night that he had not read the full email because he received it on his BlackBerry on a Saturday afternoon and did not scroll through the exchange of four messages.

Earlier yesterday, a News International executive — Richard Caseby, managing editor of |The Sun — accused Guardian |editor Alan Rusbridger of “sexing up” coverage of the phone-hacking scandal.

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