Press standards, privacy and libel - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers 1500-1519)


21 JULY 2009

  Q1500  Alan Keen: I was not exactly sure: did Glenn Mulcaire want to use the name Paul Williams just in the publication of a story or did he want paying as Paul Williams?

  Mr Myler: I do not know.

  Mr Crone: I have looked at the payment records and no, he had two different companies, I think. In the early days it was one company and it was subsequently a company called Nine Consultancy Limited.

  Q1501  Mr Watson: Mr Crone, on the Taylor case, your advice was to settle in April 2008, I think you said?

  Mr Crone: I agreed with the outside advice that was given, yes.

  Q1502  Mr Watson: So you took it to the Board in June 2008?

  Mr Crone: No, I did not take it to the Board; I reported to Mr Myler as editor, and at one stage we both reported it upwards together.

  Q1503  Mr Watson: A £700,000 payment would be a decision taken at Board level. Is that right?

  Mr Crone: I am not aware of that.

  Q1504  Mr Watson: So the News International Board did not agree the payment in any way?

  Mr Myler: What do you mean by the "Board"?

  Q1505  Mr Watson: Your managing Board; the directors of the company.

  Mr Myler: Why would they need to be involved?

  Q1506  Mr Watson: Because it is a huge amount of money and they have got a responsibility to the proprietor and shareholder, I assume?

  Mr Myler: Yes. As I have said, Mr Watson, the sum of money that Mr Taylor first set out to receive was significantly higher than the sum he did receive.

  Q1507  Mr Watson: I am sorry, I thought that was the easy question. So the Board did not know about the payment—

  Mr Crone: I do not know. I am sorry, I do not know. All I do is report to the next stage up.

  Q1508  Mr Watson: So you could let us know afterwards; you could write to us and let us know whether the Board took the decision?

  Mr Crone: I could ask the question and give you the answer, yes.

  Q1509  Mr Watson: Would that be minuted? Could you let us have the Minute?

  Mr Crone: If it was raised at the Board I assume it is minuted.

  Q1510  Mr Watson: Could you tell us how it would appear in the accounts?

  Mr Crone: No, I do not know the answer to that. It would appear against—I probably do know the answer to that. It would appear against the legal department budget.

  Q1511  Mr Watson: When did you tell Rupert Murdoch?

  Mr Crone: I did not tell Rupert Murdoch.

  Mr Myler: The sequence of events, Mr Watson, is very simple, and this is very clear: Mr Crone advised me, as the editor, what the legal advice was and it was to settle. Myself and Mr Crone then went to see James Murdoch and told him where we were with the situation. Mr Crone then continued with our outside lawyers the negotiation with Mr Taylor. Eventually a settlement was agreed. That was it.

  Q1512  Mr Watson: So James Murdoch took the ultimate decision?

  Mr Myler: James Murdoch was advised of the situation and agreed with our legal advice that we should settle.

  Mr Crone: What you have to understand about litigation, which I do not think you do, is that if you are in it then you are in it until it is over. You can stay in it and have a full trial and pay £3 million or you can get out at a certain stage and pay £600,000.

  Q1513  Mr Watson: I am just trying to find out who took the decision to make the payment.

  Mr Myler: It was an agreed, collective decision. It is how newspapers work. Indeed, Mr Watson, I think you probably know that it is good, sensible, practical business practice across most industries. Are you telling me that you have never come across an agreed payment between two companies or an individual that falls out over something that is done? Is that what you are saying?

  Q1514  Mr Watson: No, I am just trying to find out—

  Mr Crone: Mr Watson, because you are on a Conditional Fee Arrangement in your litigation against us—

  Q1515  Mr Watson: I do not want to get into that.

  Mr Crone:— you have no knowledge of how litigation finances work?

  Q1516  Mr Watson: All I am trying to find out is who took the decision to settle—

  Mr Myler: Very simple, and I think we have given you the simple answer.

  Q1517  Mr Watson: Could I ask about the payments to Mulcaire, just for clarity? You said that he had been working for the paper since the late-1990s.

  Mr Myler: I believe that the association may have gone back that far. I think his first contract was, I believe—and, again, perhaps Mr Kuttner—

  Mr Crone: The first one I have seen is 2001.

  Q1518  Mr Watson: You have seen 2001. Would you be able to let us know if it goes back before that?

  Mr Crone: Yes, sure.

  Q1519  Mr Watson: I think the only thing in the public domain is that he was paid £100,000 in 2003 to Nine Consultancy. Is that right?

  Mr Crone: I do not know.

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