Murdoch affair: Tabloid reporter implicates former editor

Andy Coulson banned openly discussing phone hacking at editorial meetings, reporter says; Coulson denies all knowledge of practice.

Rupert Murdoch 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS)
Rupert Murdoch 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS)
LONDON - Phone hacking was widely discussed at editorial meetings at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World, the reporter who was blamed as the sole culprit said in a letter which threatened to undermine repeated denials by senior News Corp executives.
In a letter written four years ago and published by the Guardian on Tuesday, the former Royal reporter Clive Goodman said the practice of hacking was openly discussed until the then editor Andy Coulson banned it.
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Coulson, who had repeatedly denied all knowledge of the practice, went on to become the official spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron, a move which dragged the affair into the political arena and forced the government to turn on Rupert Murdoch after years of courting his favor.
Goodman, who was jailed in 2007 along with private detective Glenn Mulcaire, said he had been told he could keep his job if he agreed not to implicate the newspaper.
The committee investigating the hacking scandal, which is expected to publish the letter later, said on Tuesday it would likely recall James Murdoch to give further evidence after receiving the Goodman letter and statements from other parties which contradicted his previous testimony.
Allegations of widespread hacking at News Corp's British newspaper arm, and in particular reports that journalists had used investigators to hack in to the voicemails of murder victims, sparked an uproar in Britain that dominated global headlines for almost the whole of July.
It forced the company to close the 168-year-old paper, drop its most important acquisition in decades - the $12 billion purchase of BSkyB - and accept the resignation of two of its most senior newspaper executives.
Two of Britain's most senior police officers also quit over their failure to properly investigate the scandal and 12 people have since been arrested.