Two former executives at Rupert Murdoch owned now-defunct ‘News of the World’ tabloid were on Wednesday held in contempt by a UK parliamentary committee for answering questions falsely about evidence in the phone-hacking case. The House of Commons Privileges Committee found that Colin Myler, the former editor of ‘NoW’, and Tom Crone, the legal affairs manager at the tabloid’s holding firm News International, now rebranded as News UK, misled the Parliament.
MPs on the committee concluded in their 150-page report that Myler was guilty of “answering questions falsely about knowledge of evidence that other ‘News of the World’ employees had been involved in phone-hacking and other wrongdoing” and Crone “misled” Parliament, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The committee has the power to summon people to the Commons to apologise for misleading Parliament and can also consider fines or even imprisonment. In this case, the committee has recommended “formal admonishment”. Both Myler and Crone issued statement condemning the findings, while stressing their “respect” for parliamentary process.
“It is profoundly disappointing that the Privileges Committee has chosen to act in a manner which serves to discredit parliamentary procedures rather than enhance the very authority and respect which they profess to command,” said Myler.
“I do not accept the findings made against me in the Committee of Privileges Report. I stand by the evidence I gave on both of the issues they have highlighted,” said Crone.
The finding by the committee follows a report in 2012 from the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee at the height of the phone-hacking scandal, which involved journalists illegally hacking phones in pursuit of stories.
It had ultimately led to the closure of ‘News of the World’ and criminal proceedings against several senior journalists, including its former editor Andy Coulson.
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The culture committee’s report on the phone-hacking scandal concluded that News International executives sought to downplay the extent of hacking at the paper when summoned to give evidence before the committee over several years. It had then referred its report to the Privileges Committee to investigate complaints that it was unfair to ‘NoW’ executives.