Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
21 JULY 2009
Q1340 Chairman: Those two documents
were both supplied to us last week by the Guardian; so
you were unaware of either of those until 2008?
Mr Crone: Yes. It is possible
actually that the first one had been mentioned in the Old Bailey
hearing in January 2007mentioned; but I certainly did not
have knowledge beyond that.
Q1341 Chairman: When you did become
aware of these two documents what did you do?
Mr Crone: We settled the case.
We agreed to settle the case.
Q1342 Chairman: Besides settling
the case, what did you do about the fact that there appeared to
be two documents which suggested that others beside Clive Goodman
Mr Crone: I tasked myself, with
Mr Myler's knowledge, with finding out what exactly had happened;
what was known; who knew what other documents there might be.
My first task on that mission was to contact our IT department
and to ask them to conduct a search of the creator of the email
files, the junior reporter; and I wanted to find out who else
had been sent that email either internally or externally by him.
They came back and told me that there was no trace of it having
gone anywhere else. I then questioned the junior reporter. He
had very little recollection of it, but he did know that about
this time he had only just become a reporter; prior to that actually
I think he had been a messenger and he was being trained up off
the floor. In the early weeks and months of him being trained
up as a reporter what he did more than anything else was transcribe
tapes of journalists' interviewswhatever tapes were relevant
to the News of the World. He does not particularly remember
this job in any detail; he does not remember who asked him to
do it; and he does not remember any follow-up from it. He saw
the email and he accepts that he sent the transcript where the
email says he sent it.
Q1343 Chairman: Does your IT department
suggest that this email was sent to Glenn Mulcaire and nobody
Mr Crone: It was sent to something
called "shadowmenuk", which turns out to be Glenn Mulcaire.
Q1344 Chairman: The email says, "Hello,
this is the transcript for Neville", suggesting that it was
either going to be given to Neville by Mr Mulcaire, or copied
from the junior reporter. Did Neville Thurlbeck say that he had
ever received it?
Mr Crone: I questioned Neville
Thurlbeck then and I have spoken to him about the same subject
since then. His position is that he has never seen that email,
nor had any knowledge of it. He says that he was brought into
the relevant editorial project, the story, at the end of the story
and his task was to go and knock on the door of one of the story
subjects, which was either in Blackburn or Manchester, and put
the essence of the story to the person in order to get their comments,
which is mostly standard practice in what we do. In order to conduct
that task he says he was briefed; and when I spoke to him the
first time he said he was briefed by one of our executives, Greg
Miskiw who was then based in Manchester; and he also said it was
very much a Greg Miskiw/Glenn Mulcaire project. He subsequently
came back to me and said that he had refreshed his memory and
in fact it could not have been Greg Miskiw, because Greg Miskiw
left the News of the World on 30 June 2005, which was the
day after that email was created. He had worked out his redundancy
package, I think, a week or two weeks before that, and he was
no longer on active duty. Neville Thurlbeck told me that his refreshed
memory told him that in fact the briefing that he received was
from the London news desk.
Q1345 Chairman: So the London news
desk was aware of the contents of this?
Mr Crone: Well, no, I went to
speak to the relevant person at the London news desk who told
me that he had no knowledge of the email and he had never seen
Q1346 Chairman: Neville Thurlbeck
was sent off to ask about a story which came from a transcript
which none of them were aware of?
Mr Crone: I do not know whether
the story entirely came from the transcript; but certainly part
of it must have come from the transcript, yes.
Q1347 Chairman: Despite this, the
transcript, which was sent in an email to Glenn Mulcaire, as far
as you are aware never went anywhere beyond Glenn Mulcaire?
Mr Crone: I cannot find any evidence
that it did.
Q1348 Chairman: The second piece
of paper, the contract between Greg Miskiw and Paul Williams,
Paul Williams in this case is Glenn Mulcaire?
Mr Crone: Yes.
Q1349 Chairman: Did you ask Greg
Miskiw about what this contract comprised and why Mr Mulcaire
was referred to as "Paul Williams"?
Mr Crone: He told me that Glenn
Mulcaire had come to him with a view to selling a story as an
independent projectthat is independent of any work that
he did under the general retainer he had with us. His story was
based on information he had gained, as I think he is a member
of the PFA having been a professional footballer; he had gained
it in that context and he was concerned that if his real name
was attached to the story he would obviously upset his PFA colleagues
et cetera if that ever came out. Therefore he wanted to contract
under an alias, and "Paul Williams" was the alias he
Q1350 Chairman: This story did not
require any phone hacking or activity of that kind?
Mr Crone: I am unaware that it
did. The contract was in February 2004the holding contract.
It has a very brief description of what the story is. As I understand
it, from the end game on that project, which actually was a legal
letter that we received in early July 2005, the story went beyond
what was written on that original contract. There were other factors,
which actually took it very much into the public interest. I was
completely satisfied about that.
Q1351 Chairman: As far as you are
concerned, the fact that the News of the World agreed to
pay £7,000 to Glenn Mulcaire for a specific story which related
to Gordon Taylor, and Glenn Mulcaire then hacked into Gordon Taylor's
telephone and provided or received a transcript of thosethose
two things are unrelated?
Mr Crone: I can only tell you
what I have found out since, because at the time I certainly did
not know about the original February 2005 contract. I certainly
did not know about the email and the transcript. Let me just put
this in context: when the door knock took place, which I think
was July 2I was on holiday that weekI came back
the following week and one of the legal complaints that was on
my desk by about Wednesday, I think, was a complaint from one
of the story's subjects. I went and made enquiries of Neville
Thurlbeck actually, because I knew that he was the reporter on
the story; and I was told that it was based on a source and he
had gone up and had a conversation with the person whose door
he knocked on; there were stringent denials; the legal letter
that was in front of me contained stringent denials. I went and
spoke to the Editor, Andy Coulson. I said, "It seems to be
based on a source, but if it's true the source is probably never
going to come forward"; and Andy Coulson told me to "Forget
it. Tell them that we won't be running the story", and that
was the end of it. That is the last I heard of that story until
the email was produced in April 2008.
Q1352 Chairman: Glenn Mulcaire was
being paid £100,000 plus bonuses by the News of the World.
We know that he hacked into the voicemails of quite a number of
people and the police chose only to prosecute on five out of quite
a large number. The information he obtained by hacking into other
people besides members of the Royal household and Gordon Taylor,
did that end up at the News of the World?
Mr Crone: Not to my knowledge,
no. Just one small point of information: you said "quite
a large number"; Mr Andy Hayman, who was heading the investigation,
wrote an article about all thishe is retired nowand
he says it is perhaps "a handful"; that was the phrase
he used. I think John Yates said something similar the day before.
Q1353 Chairman: The police prosecuted
and he admitted, I think, to eight individuals who have been identified
for the purposes of the prosecution's case; but the police did
then say that they were a selection of the ones where the evidence
Mr Crone: Sure, and the head of
the inquiry says that is perhaps "a handful". It is
on record. We can give you what he said actually; it is in a pack
that we want to give you eventually.
Q1354 Chairman: Let us just continue
on this theme. Let us agree there were at least a few more whose
phone messages were hacked into. As far as you know, no information
regarding those other individuals ever reached the News of
Mr Crone: I have seen no evidence
Q1355 Chairman: Was Mr Mulcaire,
do you think, working for somebody else when he was doing this?
Mr Crone: I think he was working
for other people, yes.
Q1356 Chairman: The fact that he
was being paid £100,000 by the News of the World,
that sounds like a full-time job?
Mr Crone: It may be, but I believe
he was working for other people.
Q1357 Paul Farrelly: The Sunday
Times in quite a forensic piece went beyond perhaps a handful
and said "fewer than 20", which is not necessarily inconsistent,
but they also named Boris Johnson and an unnamed senior BBC executive?
Mr Crone: I have read that article.
I do not know where it came from.
Q1358 Paul Farrelly: You would cast
doubt on the accuracy of the Sunday Times article?
Mr Crone: I am not going to speculate
Q1359 Paul Farrelly: Just to cover
more loose threads before I come to Mr Myler and the investigations
and the basis of your evidence to the PCC: how long does the IT
department of News International keep records of emails?
Mr Crone: This is not something
that has been in my mind until you are asking these questions
but my understanding is that if the individual reporter deletes,
as opposed to leaves the email on the system, it disappears after
30 days; if he leaves it there it goes automatically into archives
after a period and is kept.