21 July 2009 Second CMS Committee oral evidence session
10 July 2011 NOTW closes and Tom Crone loses his job (employment formally terminated December 2011)
6 September 2011 CMS Committee oral evidence session.
122.Tom Crone was Legal Manager for NGN and NI. He left their employment on 13 July 2011. He appeared before the CMS Committee on 11 March 2003, 5 May 2009, 21 July 2009 and 6 September 2011. It is the last two evidence sessions that are relevant to our inquiry; on both occasions he gave evidence with Colin Myler.
Tom Crone misled the Committee in 2009 by giving a counter-impression of the significance of confidentiality in the Gordon Taylor settlement (see paragraph 118) and sought to mislead the Committee about the commissioning of surveillance.
118. News International have told us that, contrary to the evidence previously supplied, the settlement made to Gordon Taylor was higher as a result of the confidentiality requirement sought by NGN. It is not necessary to quantify the amount that related to confidentiality. Keeping the settlement out of the public eye was absolutely central to the agreement. Tom Crone was involved in the negotiations and knew that NGN’s desire for confidentiality had increased the settlement amount. In seeking to give a counter-impression when questioned about this, Tom Crone misled the Committee.
No specific concluding paragraph on surveillance or particular conclusion is referred to in Chapter 8. Within Chapter 7 on surveillance the only reference to Tom Crone and surveillance is within paragraph 271:
271. We asked witnesses from News International for evidence on the issue of the potential surveillance of Committee members. Tom Crone provided an account of the surveillance carried out on Mark Lewis and his family but stated that, in relation to surveillance of Committee members, “I have no knowledge of that apart from what I have seen in media reports—which is very little”. In oral evidence he was asked whether he had ever ordered surveillance or commissioned private investigators to do any surveillance at all. He answered “no, I don’t think I did actually”. [ … ]
Tom Crone [and Colin Myler] misled the Committee by answering questions falsely about their knowledge of evidence that other News of the World employees had been involved in phone-hacking and other wrongdoing (see paragraphs 130 and 140).
130. In evidence, Tom Crone and Colin Myler gave repeated assurances that there was no evidence that any further News of the World employee, beyond Clive Goodman, had been involved in phone-hacking. This was not true and, as further evidence disclosed to us by the newspaper’s solicitors Farrer & Co now shows, they would have known this was untrue when they made those statements. Both Tom Crone and Colin Myler deliberately avoided disclosing crucial information to the Committee and, when asked to do, answered questions falsely.
140. When giving evidence to the Committee, Tom Crone and Colin Myler made two assertions that were contradictory. They maintained that, whilst the ‘for Neville’ e-mail had meant that the company had had to settle the Gordon Taylor case, it had only been evidence that “knowledge” of Glenn Mulcaire’s phone-hacking activities had “passed through” the newsroom. Tom Crone’s internal briefing and Michael Silverleaf QC’s opinion on the Gordon Taylor case clearly demonstrate that they believed that the ‘for Neville’ e-mail was evidence of far more than this. In his own internal briefing, Tom Crone described it as being “fatal” to the case and “damning”. He also stated that it proved that “we actively made use of a large number of extremely private voicemails from Gordon Taylor’s telephone in June/July 2005 and that this was pursuant to a [ … ] contract”. Colin Myler was sent that briefing and subsequently discussed evidence of wider involvement and problems in the newsroom with the newspaper’s solicitors. We now know that Tom Crone had also had sight of counsel’s opinion from Michael Silverleaf QC which referred to “a powerful case that there is (or was) a culture of illegal information access used at NGN in order to produce stories for publication”. If Colin Myler had not read the opinion himself, he was certainly briefed on its contents. Yet in giving evidence to the Committee both Tom Crone and Colin Myler attempted to downplay the significance of the ‘for Neville’ e-mail and made no mention of the legal opinion that they had obtained. In itself this amounts to an attempt to mislead the Committee about the import of a crucial piece of evidence and the failure of the company to act upon it.
123.In summary, the sting of the CMS Committee conclusion is found in five allegations against Tom Crone (three of which are the same three allegations made against Colin Myler), namely that he sought to mislead them because he:
a)Gave a counter-impression of the significance of confidentiality in the Gordon Taylor settlement;
b)Sought to mislead the Committee about the commissioning of surveillance.
c)Gave repeated assurances that there was no evidence that any further NOTW employee, beyond Clive Goodman, had been involved in phone hacking (and deliberately avoided disclosing crucial information);
d)Attempted to downplay the significance of the “For Neville” email, and portray it merely as evidence that Glenn Mulcaire’s activities had passed through the NOTW newsroom;
e)Failed to mention that they had obtained a legal opinion.
124.In his letter to us of 10 February 2015, Mr Crone stated: “I am responsible only for answers I gave and not for statements made by others.” Mr Crone continued:
I say this because there is a recognisable tendency in the Report for the [CMS] Committee to use phrases like “A number of senior executives from News International lined up to tell the Committee..” (par 120), Tom Crone “maintained the same line” (again, par 120), “in evidence Tom Crone and Colin Myler gave repeated assurances” (par 130). If the Committee wishes to describe my evidence or attribute views or stances to me they should point to specific evidence I gave.
We note that the witnesses were able to comment on or supplement one another’s evidence, and that on at least one occasion Tom Crone answered a question intended for Colin Myler. Nonetheless, we have borne his point in mind, and we have looked at the evidence that he gave.
125.We also bear in mind that at the CMS Committee evidence session on 6 September 2011 Tom Crone had no access to his office files and other related documents. We note that at the time Tom Crone gave evidence in 2009 he was still in post, and had such access.
126.The CMS Committee had before it the “For Neville” email and February 2005 Contract.
127.The following documents were received by the CMS Committee after the Tom Crone/Colin Myler oral evidence session on 6 September 2011:
a)Tom Crone’s 24 May 2008 Memo: This document contains two points of significance as to confidentiality arguments—
i)Tom Crone had authorised Farrer & Co to make an opening offer of £150K plus costs. He and Farrer & Co thought it unlikely that Gordon Taylor would take it but “hoped it would open negotiations which would lead to a confidential settlement. The response from his solicitors is that he “is not interested in settling, it’s a matter of principle and he wants to take it to trial”.”
ii)Gordon Taylor was claiming both ordinary damages and exemplary (punitive) damages and Tom Crone considered it likely that he would succeed on both claims. He noted, “This case will be expensive”.
i)“I would not imagine that NGN wishes this kind of allegation to be given any more publicity than is inevitable from the bringing of the claim.”
ii)Refers to it being “almost inevitable that the court will wish to mark its disapproval of their activities by awarding an enhanced level of damages.”
iii)“it is impossible to arrive with any certainty at the likely level of damages which will be awarded. My view is that the court might award a sum at any level from £25,000 to £250,000 or possibly even more, although I think this extremely unlikely. My best guess is that the award will be either about £100,000 or about £250,000 depending upon the personal reaction of the judge who hears the claim. [ … ] I do not think that the level of damages at which a judge will ultimately settle can be predicted with any certainty.”
c)Julian Pike’s notes, which would not have been seen by Tom Crone, but some of their content is then found in emails to him, including notes of Julian Pike’s telephone calls on 3 June 2008 and 6 June 2008 with Gordon Taylor’s solicitors: “Said that JCP had sent across a part 36 letter in the sum of £350,000. Said there might be a little bit on the table if a confidentiality deal could be agreed”
d)Emails between Colin Myler and Tom Crone (including some to James Murdoch), regarding a further “nightmare scenario” of an additional claim, and forwarding an email from Julian Pike’s email of 6 June 2008: “Taylor had previous made clear that what he wanted if he were to keep the matter confidential was seven-figures plus indemnity costs”.”
128.Colin Myler confirmed to the CMS Committee that a payment had been made to settle the action by Gordon Taylor and two others. The Chair of the CMS Committee asked:
Q1333 Was the size of that payment greater in order that the proceedings should be kept secret?
Mr Myler: Absolutely not as far as I am aware.
Mr Crone: No.
129.Mr Crone was then asked on what basis it was decided to keep the proceedings secret:
Q1334 Mr Crone: “Secret” is not the word I would use. This was an action against us for breach of confidence and privacy. We get quite a lot of those now since the privacy law has expanded somewhat in the last five years. Every single case against us for breach of privacy—unless the information is already out within the public domain—results in a very strict term of confidentiality at the end of the case. When you think about it, there would be absolutely no point in anyone suing us to stop their privacy being revealed if they did not at the end of the case tack on an absolutely strict and binding confidentiality term, and that is what happened in this case.
130.At Q1335 the Chair asked “Was it at Gordon Taylor’s request?”, Mr Crone answered:
Mr Crone: Actually I think he mentioned it first.
Q1336 Chairman: He mentioned it first? (emphasis as per transcript)
Mr Crone: It was raised by him before it was raised by us, but we fell in with it. We always fall in with it, being privacy, because if the litigant goes in front of the judge the judge will order the injunction immediately-so certainly when we have accepted that there was a breach.
131.At Q1339 the Chair again asked: “If the position was that … Clive Goodman was acting entirely alone and that nobody else had knowledge, why did News International agree to settle with such a large sum?” Tom Crone answered by providing information as to the investigations undertaken and repeated that the first piece of evidence was the “For Neville” email and 2005 Contract. The Chair asked: “When you did become aware of these two documents what did you do?” The answer was, “We settled the case. We agreed to settle the case.”
132.Finally, Tom Crone also put forward the argument in favour of making a large payment in order to save later and larger sums of costs being incurred.
133.At the 6 September 2011 evidence session Tom Watson MP asked Tom Crone a series of questions about the settlement:
a)“Wasn’t it the case that you said you would have to settle at a much larger sum to keep phone hacking secret?” Answer: No.
b)“And to keep the pretence that Clive Goodman was a single rogue reporter.” Answer: Not at all.
c)“Isn’t it the case that he was well aware that you would buy the silence of Gordon Taylor if you settled for £425,000?” Answer: “As I said, the imperative or the priority at that time was to settle the case, get rid of it, contain the situation as far as four other potential litigants were concerned, and get on with our business.”
d)If the other four (non-Royal victims of Glenn Mulcaire) learn of settlement—“it is almost inevitable that they will sue us to get the same result.”
e)As for who asked for confidentiality?: Tom Crone thought Gordon Taylor did, but “We were quite happy with it.” When he was asked whether Taylor asked for an unprecedented sum because he knew NGN would want confidentiality, Tom Crone did not answer the question, instead asking where Mr Watson got the figure from.
134.Tom Crone was also asked about the terms of the Gordon Taylor settlement, in particular as to the reason for making an offer of £415,000 (or £425,000). He repeated that he thought that confidentiality was raised by Gordon Taylor first, and that NGN were “quite happy with it”. But in 2011, unlike in 2009, he went on to explain that there were four other potential complainants besides Gordon Taylor and that he was concerned to avoid further litigation:
Q796: If it all went public with Mr Taylor, we were at risk of four other litigants coming straight in on top of us, with enormous cost. If we have to pay way over the odds for Mr Taylor, especially if there is a confidentiality clause, which was asked for by him and agreed by us—or mutually asked for—that is a good course of action. If it is £415,000 or £425,000 to settle one case, thereby avoiding being sued by four other people who might have similarly high demands and huge legal costs, that is the right decision to take from my point of view.
135.His evidence in 2009 was put to him. He said that he had never not accepted that confidentiality was part of the deal to settle with Gordon Taylor, but that he thought “there is a difference between secrecy and confidentiality. What we were keen to avoid, certainly from my point of view, were four other actions coming in from the other four victims identified at the Old Bailey.” It was suggested to him that he was trying to “parse the words ‘confidentiality’ and ‘secrecy’”, but he said:
There was no hiding this. Last time the Committee knew very well that there was a confidentiality clause in the agreement. They knew very well that the deal was—clause by clause—pay him some money, agree confidentiality and pay his costs. Of course it was a factor, and we have never hidden that, but it was not, “secrecy gets more money”.
136.Tom Crone’s written evidence explains that he had forgotten the existence of his 24 May 2008 Memo. He also told the CMS Committee that Gordon Taylor had demanded £250k before the disclosure of the “For Neville” email and February 2005 Contract, and as such any offer after disclosure was going to need to be higher than £250k. There was a need to pitch at a level that would lead his lawyers to advise him that he would be incurring substantial costs risk if he chose to fight on.
137.On 2 September 2011 Farrer & Co wrote to the CMS Committee and commented that:
as regards confidentiality [the firm’s] recollection was that both parties were interested in confidentiality provisions [ … ] An element of the sum paid to Mr Taylor would have reflected the agreement to keep the matter confidential but no precise figure was attributed to that element that we are aware of.
138.In oral evidence on 14 December 2011, Counsel to the inquiry put to Mr Crone that the strategy was to “avoid reputational damage, settle cases at an overvalue and hope that it all goes away” and Mr Crone agreed that this was “not far off” and that it was certainly the thinking that “the problem was trying to be contained”.
139.We have seen a copy of a Record of Attendance for a meeting on 20 January 2010 between various employees of NI and NGN, and Farrer & Co. The meeting appears to have been held to discuss the civil claim being brought by Max Clifford and also requests from the CMS Committee for evidence from Rebekah Brooks for their inquiry. Tom Crone attended this meeting, at which it is recorded as part of the discussion that “Taylor was because of confidentiality.” It appears to be Julian Pike making this comment. This is further confirmation of the importance of confidentiality (by way of an unguarded comment), but not a specific conclusion or inference to draw in relation to Tom Crone.
140.In his submission of 20 August 2012, Tom Crone stated:
I have never heard of “seeking to give a counter-impression” being a recognisable concept in law or justice and, whatever it means, I cannot accept, in the context of an individual facing a finding of Contempt and punishment (i.e. damaging consequence) on an allegation of giving misleading evidence, it is high enough hurdle to justify this process.
141.He noted that in his 24 May 2008 Memo he had told Colin Myler that “this case will be expensive” and told this Committee that “it was always anticipated that the settlement would be confidential because that is almost invariably the case in the settlement of privacy actions.” He also explained that Julian Pike conducted the negotiations, and he and Julian Pike only discussed global sums.
142.In his submission of 10 February 2015, Tom Crone drew attention to paragraph 110 of the 2012 Report, which set out a number of explanations that were given to the CMS Committee for the high settlement figure. Tom Crone commented that “All five explanations are correct in the sense that each of them was “in play” to a greater or lesser extent in the decision to settle at that figure.” The reasons include the desire to prevent further claims, and confidentiality.
143.Tom Crone submitted that his answers to the questions were accurate. He asserted that in Q1333 he was asked about keeping “the proceedings” secret, and pointed out that the “commencement and service of the proceedings, the names of the parties and, I believe, the specific cause of action were a matter of public record in the Writs Office of the High Court” and that “Mr Taylor’s proceedings were publicly available for [ … ] over a year in 2007–2008.” As such, they could not be kept secret. He noted that he explained to the Chairman that “’Secret’ is not the word I would use.”
144.He also suggested that the reasoning of our predecessor Committee (as a preliminary inference) “makes no sense at all”. He pointed out that he told the CMS Committee that in cases of breach of privacy there are very strict terms for confidentiality “in favour of the Claimant”, and asked: “how could I possibly be suggesting that conceding to his requirement for a confidentiality clause meant we paid him a greater, as opposed, more likely, to a lesser sum in damages?”.
145.The CMS Committee’s 2012 Report concluded that the “significance of confidentiality” was that the settlement made to Gordon Taylor was higher:
… Keeping the settlement out of the public eye was absolutely central to the agreement. Tom Crone was involved in the negotiations and knew that NGN’s desire for confidentiality had increased the settlement amount. In seeking to give a counter-impression when questioned about this, Tom Crone misled the Committee.
146.Tom Crone’s answer of “No” to Q1333 in 2009 (“Was the size of the payment greater in order that the proceedings should be kept secret?”) was flatly contradicted by his 2011 answers to Qq823, 973 and 976 which explained that the “imperative or the priority at the time was to settle the case, get rid of it, contain the situation as far as four other potential litigants were concerned, and get on with our business”. He chose to answer the Chair’s questions by reference only to Gordon Taylor’s supposed wishes, and made no reference to the wishes of his own client—despite being provided with opportunities to do so.
147.As to whether the description of his evidence as a “counter-impression” is a high enough hurdle for a finding of contempt, we consider that it accurately describes the misleading nature of the evidence given by Tom Crone in 2009 and is sufficiently clear for a finding of contempt. We note the CMS Committee’s comment on the importance of keeping the settlement out of the public eye. We also note Tom Crone’s answer to Q1336 as to who mentioned confidentiality first, namely “It was raised by him before it was raised by us, but we fell in with it, we always fall in with it, being privacy”, as an answer which sought, in our opinion, to give an impression that confidentiality was really only of importance to Gordon Taylor.
148.Tom Crone has referred us to the various reasons for which any party to litigation might decide to offer a sum of money to settle a case. We accept that there were competing arguments and reasons for the settlement of Gordon Taylor’s claim. However, one of those reasons was to maintain confidentiality for the benefit of NGN. Tom Crone was asked questions which tended to the importance to both parties of ensuring a confidential settlement; he chose to answer only in relation to the wishes and needs of Gordon Taylor. He did not explain that confidentiality was also of importance to NGN. In contrast to his evidence in 2011, Tom Crone’s evidence in 2009 did not mention the risk to NGN of four other litigants bringing claims and his concern to prevent further litigation.
149.As with all of our conclusions we have considered whether the questions put were sufficiently clear, and whether, in the context of that part of the evidence session, Tom Crone was provided with an opportunity to give a full and honest answer. In particular, we have considered the use of the word “secret” or “secrecy”. We have concluded that the questions put were sufficiently clear that Tom Crone had an opportunity to provide a full and honest answer to the CMS Committee in 2009 on the issue of confidentiality. We note that in his own evidence he used a variety of different words to describe the non-disclosure of information. We also note that the questions made very clear that what the CMS Committee was seeking an answer to was the question of why the payment to Gordon Taylor was such a large sum of money, and whether part or all of the reason for that was NGN’s need for confidentiality.
150.We have concluded that it is significantly more likely than not to be true that Tom Crone misled the CMS Committee in 2009 by giving a counter-impression of the significance of confidentiality in the Gordon Taylor settlement. He was involved in the settlement negotiations and knew that NGN’s desire for confidentiality had increased the settlement amount. We make a finding of contempt in relation to this issue.
151.This issue did not form part of the 2010 Report or evidence sessions.
152.This conclusion relates to the surveillance of lawyers for a number of the civil claimants. The reason for deciding to undertake surveillance is set out in Mr Crone’s written evidence in the 2012 Report.
153.Unlike for the other Chapter 8 conclusions, there is no specific paragraph in the body of the Report referred back to for this conclusion. Chapter 7 of the 2012 Report is on the topic of surveillance, but makes only passing reference to Tom Crone’s evidence and deals in the main with the surveillance of CMS Committee members, and in particular, Tom Watson MP. Linklaters have confirmed that the employees responsible for the surveillance of Tom Watson MP did not include Tom Crone.
154.Tom Crone’s initial oral evidence for the 2012 Report was that he had not arranged for the lawyers of phone hacking victims to be monitored by private detectives, and had not arranged for a dossier to be kept on them and follow up on their private lives. In another phase of questioning he was asked:
Q883: Mr Watson: Did you ever order surveillance? Did you ever commission private investigations to do any surveillance at all?
Mr Crone: No, I don’t think I did actually.
Q884: Mr Watson: Have you ever received or commissioned reports on the civil case lawyers that involved private investigators?
Mr Crone: Let me just think about that last question. I may have in litigation—certainly not in the last few years, but a long time ago maybe—I might well have used, I probably did in fact use private investigators on various things like tracing, maybe a bit of surveillance and something else, I cannot remember. It is not unusual for lawyers to use private investigators.
155.However, later in the evidence session Mr Crone provided the following answers:
Q1029 Mr Watson: Did you see dossiers on the private lives of claimant lawyers?
Tom Crone: I saw one thing in relation to two of the lawyers, except I do not know whether it was a dossier. It involves their private lives.
Q1030 Mr Watson: Did you feel the need not to answer that question when I had a round of questions with you earlier?
Tom Crone: Didn’t you ask whether I had ordered surveillance, or something like that—whether I had ordered a private investigator?
Q1031 Mr Watson: You gave me a lawyer’s answer, and now you have given me an accurate answer. Do you know the origin of those dossiers?
Tom Crone: Freelance journalists, I think.
Q1032 Mr Watson: Employed by News International?
Tom Crone: Freelance journalists employed by News International, yes.
156.James Murdoch said in evidence that Tom Crone and another NOTW employee did place the claimants’ lawyers under surveillance. Tom Crone was invited to comment in writing on James Murdoch’s evidence. In his written reply, Tom Crone said that he “did not “commission private investigators to carry out surveillance”.” He did accept, however, that he had raised the case with the head of the NOTW newsdesk “with a view to seeing whether it was practicable or possible for him to assign one of his journalists to ascertaining the nature of the relationship”. He sought to distinguish between asking the newspaper’s news desk for help in gathering facts and commissioning private detectives. He did not accept that he gave incorrect answers to Tom Watson MP.
157.Tom Crone addressed the issue of surveillance in both of his witness statements to the Inquiry. As with the CMS Committee evidence session, the same pattern of not linking the first open question on surveillance to the Claimant’s lawyers, but nonetheless providing the answer when asked again later, can be seen across his two witness statements. In oral evidence on 13 December 2011 he was asked if he was drawing a fine distinction between private investigators in the strict sense of the term and a freelance journalist, but he answered that he did not recognise it as a fine distinction. He explained that he had not thought he was being asked about the two lawyers in the questions put to him for his first witness statement.
158.In oral evidence on 14 December 2011, he said that he knew Mr Webb’s duties included surveillance and accepted that Mr Webb’s investigation into the two claimant lawyers was not journalism but was something for the legal department, and was discreet surveillance. In his report Lord Justice Leveson concluded:
4.34 Mr Crone continued to maintain, despite being the only witness before the Inquiry to believe it, that Mr Webb was employed as a freelance journalist, though he did accept that in undertaking the specific task of surveillance of Mr Lewis and Ms Harris he was “doing something for the legal department.” [ … ] Despite his efforts to persuade the Inquiry to the contrary, in my judgment he well knew that Mr Webb was not carrying out proper journalistic functions.
159.Mr Crone stated in his 20 August 2012 submission that “The basis for this charge and the reasoning behind it in the report are non-existent. The finding is tacked onto … and is the only one of the Committee “conclusions” which does not contain a cross-reference to the paragraphs of reasoning.” He noted the very limited reference to his behaviour in Chapter 7.
160.He asked us to watch the video of Mr Watson’s question Q883, and submitted that rather than two questions (“there is not a ‘first part’ and ‘second part’”) that Mr Watson “seems to rephrase the question which I then answer. My instant answer is not correct but I immediately correct it in the following answer.”
161.As to the Leveson Inquiry, in his 10 February 2015 submission he explained:
In relation to Lord Justice Leveson’s conclusion that I “knew that Mr Webb was not carrying out proper journalistic functions”, I agree entirely. I have never said to him or to the CMS Committee that Mr Webb was carrying out “proper journalistic functions”. I have consistently said to everyone who has asked me that he was asked to ascertain the nature of the relationship between the two solicitors for the purposes of litigation in which we were a party. It was not a journalistic purpose but was a function which many journalists can perform. Please remember that I sought assistance in this matter from the news desk not from a firm of investigators. I asked that a journalist be assigned to the task and the News Editor said he would put Derek Webb onto it. I had previously been told that he carried an NUJ press card (something I understand which is not issued without checks) and as far as I was concerned he worked for the newspaper as a freelance journalist. The suggestion was made at the Leveson Inquiry that discreet surveillance cannot be a journalistic function. I wholly reject this. A vast number of media stories have been produced by journalists (or others) watching and following the possible subjects of stories.
162.In coming to our conclusion we have taken account of the fact that Tom Crone did eventually provide the evidence to the CMS Committee later in the same oral evidence session, and later again by way of written evidence. We are very reluctant to apply a finding of contempt where a witness to a committee has ultimately provided truthful evidence. We have also taken into account Tom Crone’s criticism that the basis for this allegation and the reasoning behind it are unclear within Chapter 8 and notably within Chapter 7 on the topic of surveillance. We note his criticism that the first question put to him on surveillance was in two parts, making it difficult to answer. We consider that these criticisms bear some weight.
163.We note, but draw no conclusion, that had a second opportunity to answer the question about surveillance not been provided to him, his first answers were inaccurate, and placed him at risk of a finding that he had sought to mislead the CMS Committee.
164.We have concluded that, applying the standard of proof, there is insufficient evidence to find that Tom Crone sought to mislead the CMS Committee about the commissioning of surveillance. The allegation is not proved. As such, we do not find him in contempt on this issue.
165.This allegation was made by the CMS Committee in relation to the evidence of Colin Myler and Tom Crone. As such, the written evidence and documents before the Committee as set out in this Report in relation to Colin Myler apply equally to Tom Crone (see preceding chapter). As Tom Crone was Legal Manager at the time of Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire’s arrest and sentencing (phase one), we set out below evidence in addition to that set out above in relation to Colin Myler, which relates to Tom Crone’s knowledge. As with Colin Myler, so with Tom Crone, we have focussed on the evidence he gave, and drawn our conclusions from that evidence, and not the evidence of Colin Myler.
166.In addition to the “For Neville” email and February 2005 Contract also in front of the CMS Committee was the prosecution submissions on sentence, pleas in mitigation and sentencing remarks of Mr Justice Gross from the sentencing hearing of Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire which Tom Crone attended on 26 January 2007. It appears that all Counsel and the Judge accepted without argument on the point that any information retrieved by Mulcaire on the non-Royal household Counts was to be passed to NOTW. In particular, the prosecution confirmed that counts 16–20 related to Glenn Mulcaire alone, and that the purpose was to pass information on to NOTW. Counsel for Clive Goodman told the Court:
Whatever else may be the position between Mr Mulcaire and others in respect of any other activity, that account is specifically to deal, as I say, with Count 1 of Mr Goodman. So it is important to recognise his involvement. Whoever else may be involved at the News of the World, his involvement is so limited.
MR JUSTICE GROSS: Yes. As far as I am concerned, Mr Goodman has nothing to do with Counts 16 to 20.
In his sentencing remarks Mr Justice Gross told Glenn Mulcaire: “As to Counts 16 to 20, you had not dealt with Goodman but with others at News International.”
167.As stated in relation to Colin Myler, many of the documents received by the CMS Committee for their 2012 Report were received after the evidence session with Colin Myler and Tom Crone had taken place. Of those documents, of particular interest is Tom Crone’s 24 May 2008 Memo which, as set out above, explained that the “For Neville” email and 2005 Contract having been received, the result was that NGN could not defend the Gordon Taylor claim. The documents are “fatal” to their case and “The damning email is genuine and proves we actively made use of a large number of extremely private voicemails from Taylor’s telephone in June/July 2005 and that this was pursuant to a February 2005 contract, ie a five to six month operation.”
168.As set out above in relation to Colin Myler, the Silverleaf Opinion of 3 June 2008 had set out Counsel’s view that at least three NGN journalists appeared to have been “intimately involved in Mr Mulcaire’s illegal researching into Mr Taylor’s affairs.” And that “There is overwhelming evidence of the involvement of a number of senior NGN journalists in the illegal enquiries into [REDACTED]. [ … ] there is a powerful case that there is (or was) a culture of illegal information access used at NGN in order to produce stories for publication.”
169.In relation to emails between Julian Pike and Tom Crone, an email of 6 June 2008 from Julian Pike had reported:
Just confirm my without prejudice conversation with Mark Lewis, Taylor’s lawyer:
[ … ]—He wants to demonstrate that what happened to him is/was rife throughout the organisation. He wants to correct the paper telling Parliamentary enquiries that this was not happening when it was [NGN’s line having been there was a rogue trader in CG].
170.Tom Crone provided a number of answers as to whether there was any evidence of other NOTW employees involved in phone hacking:
Q1339 Chairman: If the position was that, as you have previously said, Clive Goodman was acting entirely alone and that nobody else had knowledge, why did News International agree to settle with such a large sum?
Mr Crone: In the aftermath of Clive Goodman and Mulcaire’s arrest and subsequent conviction various internal investigations were conducted by us. This was against the background of a nine month massively intense police investigation prior to arrest and then a continuing investigation in the five months up until conviction. The police raided Mulcaire’s premises; they raided Goodman’s premises; and they raided the News of the World offices. They seized every available document; they searched all the computers, the files, the emails et cetera. Subsequent to the arrests they came to us, the News Group Newspapers Ltd, and made various requests to us to produce documents which they felt may be relevant. At no stage during their investigation or our investigation did any evidence arise that the problem of accessing by our reporters, or complicity of accessing by our reporters, went beyond the Goodman/Mulcaire situation. The first piece of evidence we saw of that, in terms of the management investigating, was in April 2008 when Mr Taylor’s lawyers produced two documents: the first was a February 2005 holding contract and the second was the email that was discussed here last week.
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 were involved?
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’ interviews—whatever 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.
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.
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.
Q1367 Paul Farrelly: You are basically taking people’s word on trust?
Mr Crone: I can only work on the evidence. I can only work at and pass on the evidence. I cannot speculate; I cannot guess. These are serious matters and I am not going to speculate or guess in front of this Committee. I can tell you what I asked and the information I was given and the evidence I have seen.
Q1398 Paul Farrelly: The question: was anyone else involved with Mulcaire? The answer was: no. Nothing else was found?
Mr Crone: No evidence was found.
Q1399 Paul Farrelly: Mr Myler, in evidence to the PCC you said in February 2007, and tell me whether the PCC’s quote is accurate in their report, “This was an exceptionally unhappy event in the 163 year history of News of the World involving one journalist”. They quote you as saying that Goodman was a “rogue exception”. That is accurate, is it? But in the court case in January the judge has said, “As to counts 16–20”, which were the counts involving Max Clifford, Simon Hughes, Elle Macpherson, Sky Andrew and Gordon Taylor, who are not Royals, to Mulcaire, “you had not dealt with Goodman but with others at News International”. On the basis of that import, how could you say that this was one rogue exception involving one journalist?
Mr Crone: I was in court actually and I remember him saying that and my immediate reaction—obviously nothing I could voice—was “Why is he saying that?”, because the prosecution did not open it, saying there was such a connection.
Q1400 Paul Farrelly: So the judge’s summary is wrong?
Mr Crone: I cannot remember hearing anything in court from the prosecution to justify that.
171.In relation to the “For Neville” email, Tom Crone told the CMS Committee that he contacted the IT department to check who else had been sent the email internally or externally, and that the response was that there was no trace of the email having gone anywhere else. He questioned the junior reporter who had very little recollection of the email, including not remembering who asked him to do this task. Tom Crone told the CMS Committee that he also asked Neville Thurlbeck about the email, but he denied seeing it or having any knowledge of it. He had checked with the relevant person on the London news desk, who also said that he had no knowledge of the email and had not seen it.
172.In relation to not disclosing the legal opinion, there are references to outside legal advice being provided that they should settle, but no references to the part of the Silverleaf Opinion which deals with Counsel’s treatment of the evidence i.e. as per Michael Silverleaf QC that, “there is a powerful case that there is (or was) a culture of illegal information access used at NGN in order to produce stories for publication.”.
173.For the 2012 Report, Tom Crone confirmed that he knew when meeting with James Murdoch in June 2008 that Clive Goodman was not a rogue reporter, because he had seen the “for Neville” e-mail. His 2009 evidence was put to him
Q835 Chair: I have reviewed what you have told us, but there is no question in my mind but that the evidence from you and the other witnesses from News of the World in 2009 suggested to us that there was no real evidence to suggest anybody other than Clive Goodman was involved. That was what we heard repeatedly.
Tom Crone: But there is the clearest possible answer I gave you very early on in the proceedings that until the “for Neville” e-mail there was no evidence that went beyond Goodman. Clearly, when the “for Neville” e-mail came through, that evidence existed. You asked me what I did as a result, and I said we settled the case.
Q836 Chair: Yes, but you also said that you could find no record of it being forwarded to anybody. You said that the reporter did not remember it, and you said that Neville Thurlbeck did not remember it.
Tom Crone: That is true.
Q837 Chair: The impression you sought to give to us was that actually, this did not really amount to very much, since nobody seemed to have any memory of it.
Tom Crone: On the record, publicly, I challenge anyone to read the transcript, because I do not agree that that is the case.
Chair: The transcript remains on the record.
174.His evidence as to the importance of the “For Neville” email was questioned:
Q988 Louise Mensch: [ … ] Have we moved on from one rogue reporter to two rogue reporters, Neville Thurlbeck and Clive Goodman, or did you in this meeting suggest to Mr James Murdoch that evidence had been brought to your attention that hacking was widespread throughout the News of the World?
Tom Crone: No.
Louise Mensch: Or, might you be able to say that there were just two rogue reporters?
Tom Crone: What the document showed and what I relayed in the meeting was that it—a transcript of Gordon Taylor voicemails—had passed through our office, actually back by e-mail, to Glenn Mulcaire. Clive Goodman had not been charged with that.
Louise Mensch: I’m not interested in Clive Goodman. Let me try to be more specific.
Tom Crone: I know what your question was. That is what I explained and that is what was relayed to Mr Murdoch, the difference that this document made was that it implicated the News of the World in Gordon Taylor without any doubt at all, because it had passed through our office.
Q989 Louise Mensch: [ … ] It proved that the paper as a corporate body had knowledge, but did it prove that there were many reporters at the News of the World involved?
Tom Crone: No. It had proved that it had gone through the computer system of a junior reporter.
Louise Mensch: Okay. That doesn’t sound—
Tom Crone: The obvious inference that can be drawn from that is that others—an other, or others—knew of it, because the junior reporter clearly wasn’t doing this off his own bat because he was just told to transcribe it.
175.Tom Crone considered that he had been clear as to the evidence he had given regarding the importance of the “For Neville” email:
Tom Crone: We made it absolutely clear to this Committee how important that e-mail was on the last occasion. Mr Myler said that there were three things that needed to be discussed. The third item he identified was the e-mail. [ … ] He said that leaves only one issue to be dealt with here today and that is the documents that had arisen—and one of them was the “for Neville” e-mail. He said that is the reason we are here, to answer questions about that. So we did not—we did not—underestimate or mislead you in any way whatsoever about the importance of that e-mail.
Q740 Chair: Okay. So do you regard the mere existence of the e-mail as evidence that phone hacking was taking place beyond Clive Goodman?
Tom Crone: I said that to the Committee on the last occasion. It was evidence clearly. That was the first piece of evidence that we had seen that it went beyond Clive Goodman.
176.He considered that his answers to a number of questions made “the import” of the “For Neville” email abundantly clear.
177.In relation to the Silverleaf Opinion, Tom Crone referred to Counsel’s advice to settle the claim during the 2011 evidence session and the potential level of damages.
178.Mr Crone did not provide written evidence for the 2010 Report, but did for the 2012 Report. He makes specific reference to Q 1398 in the 2009 evidence session in which he was asked:
Q1398 Paul Farrelly: The question: was anyone else involved with Mulcaire? The answer was: no. Nothing else was found?
Mr Crone: No evidence was found.
179.Mr Crone stated that this was the truth “as I then knew it.” “Then” being (as per Q1397), after 29 November 2006 when Mulcaire and Goodman pleaded guilty. This is consistent with his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry that it was at the sentencing hearing two months later in January 2007 that he thought that others were likely to be involved.
180.Tom Crone considered that he was clear in what he told the CMS Committee in 2009 about the significance of the “For Neville” email and the fact that it was evidence of others at NOTW apart from Clive Goodman being involved or complicit in phone hacking.
181.Colin Myler provided a statement to the Metropolitan Police in which he told them that on 11 July 2009 Neville Thurlbeck had confessed to him and Tom Crone that he had hacked into David Blunkett’s phone in 2004. Colin Myler and Tom Crone reported this to Rebekah Brooks (who had been announced as the new Chief Executive, to take over in September 2009, but who was already acting as Chief Executive during the transition period). The 11 July 2009 conversation took place ten days before Colin Myler and Tom Crone gave evidence to the CMS Committee.
182.Disclosure that we sought from the CPS included a number of emails containing Tom Crone’s notes of Rebekah Brooks’ meeting with the MPS in 2006 in relation to the hacking of her phone (also his handwritten version). The notes include the following points:
a)That the only payment records the police found were from News International;
b)The police were not widening the case to include other NOTW people, but would do so if they got direct evidence;
c)The police had no recordings of NOTW people speaking to Glenn Mulcaire or accessing voicemails, but they do have Glenn Mulcaire’s phone records which show sequences of contacts with NOTW before and after accesses.
183.There were also emails from November 2006 in which Tom Crone reported that Clive Goodman was making clear that he was “not the guiding light at the NOW behind everything GM did over the years”.
184.Also within the CPS disclosure were copies of the annual contract for Nine Consultancy (Glenn Mulcaire’s company) and NOTW for lawful research work which included an exclusivity clause.
185.In December 2006 Tom Crone drafted a Memorandum setting out the position at that point in relation to the then forthcoming sentencing hearing for Goodman and Mulcaire and potential civil claims arising from that case. In the Memorandum he was “trying to predict fall-out …I.e. P.R., possible further police activity and possible further legal proceedings”. He made the following points:
a)It is likely that the police will say that the non-Royal charges are “samples of a much larger group of people whose voicemails he accessed; that the evidence suggests only one paymaster, the News of the World, and that he has been exclusively contracted to the NoW for a number of years”;
b)Clive Goodman has told his lawyers that his commissioning of Mulcaire was with the knowledge and authorisation of the Editor. Tom Crone is certain this is a false allegation. There is a real risk of this allegation coming out. Clive Goodman has said he will not volunteer it, but if asked direct questions he says he will have to answer;
c)Glenn Mulcaire’s lawyers have been in contact about a settlement. “What Mulcaire might say (through counsel) in court is clearly linked to the outcome of his “employment” discussions. It is quite likely in any event that he will say all of the activities with which he is charged were conducted for the NoW. Whether he says a lot more (e.g. names) or a lot less may depend on any talks that may take place.”;
d)Correspondence has been received from Gordon Taylor’s lawyers. There is not “much evidence for what they are claiming other than Mulcaire’s contracts with us.” They are aware of the February 2005 contract. “Where this threatened civil claim is going I cannot accurately predict, but I suspect in the short term it won’t go away.”
186.In his second witness statement, Tom Crone stated:
I cannot remember when and by whom the “rogue reporter” explanation was first put out but I was of the view that it was erroneous from the outset. Having attended throughout the Goodman/Mulcaire sentencing hearing, I formed a strong impression that what was said about “others at News International” commissioning Mulcaire’s accessing in relation to the non-Royal victims was based upon more than circumstantial evidence. In addition to that, I had previously learned something during the course of giving legal advice which led me to believe that this explanation could not be right.
187.In oral evidence he told the Leveson Inquiry that he had advised NI or its employees on issues of phone hacking on one occasion before the arrest of Clive Goodman, namely in 2004 and that the advice was in relation to the Regulation and Investigatory Powers Act 2000. He accepted that there was a “party line” being put out that there was “one rogue reporter”, and said that he “thought it would probably come back to bite the people who were saying it, which was the company”. Later in oral evidence he explained:
There was a—I had a concern to some extent about that, but I think there was a line taken that in the absence of clear, admissible evidence, and in the absence of the police asking any questions of any person on the News of the World other than Clive Goodman, or suggesting that arrests should be—other arrests should be made, after what was an obviously very, very thorough investigation, I think the line was taken that this was the worst thing that had happened in the newspaper’s history, probably, almost certainly, and the company’s primary thought was to draw a line under it, especially since, clearly, the police didn’t look as if they were taking it further in any other direction.
188.In his letter of 20 August 2012, Tom Crone made the following points:
a)That he was not given a chance by the CMS Committee to respond to specific criticisms of his evidence, and “At no stage were the Thurlbeck/Pike evidence or the specific matters in the Silverleaf Opinion put to me by the CMS Committee nor was I given a chance to explain or reply on them.”
b)In relation to the “For Neville” email he stated that the CMS Committee failed in their 2010 and 2012 Reports to refer to his evidence at Q1339 and Q1346 given at the outset of the 2009 oral evidence session, in which he said he accepted that the email was evidence of wider NOTW involvement in phone-hacking. There is one reference to Q1339 in the 2012 Report but not in relation to any admission, and there is no reference to Q1346 in either Report. Tom Crone’s position is that his answer to Q1339 makes precisely the assertion for which he is criticised—“The problem of accessing by our reporters, or complicity in accessing, went beyond the Goodman/Mulcaire situation.” Further, that in answering Q1346 and accepting that the source of the proposed Gordon Taylor story “certainly part of it must have come from the transcript” he was clearly pointing out that others were involved, because Clive Goodman was not involved in the Gordon Taylor story.
c)On the single rogue reporter point he also suggested that the choice by the CMS Committee to quote only part of his answer at Q1339 removes sentences from his answer in which he did not support the one rogue reporter stance. He refuted the allegation that he gave repeated assurances that there was no one beyond Clive Goodman. He states that whilst:
“The company may have still maintained that line in 2009, …. I was not. I accepted at the very outset before the Committee in 2009 that the “for Neville” email, when it arrived in April 2008, was evidence that “the problem of accessing by our reporters, or complicity in accessing, went beyond the Goodman/Mulcaire situation”. My answer to Q1339 makes exactly that assertion and my answer to Q1346, referring to the source of the proposed Gordon Taylor story accepts that “certainly part of it must have come from the transcript”.
189.In support of his evidence as to the “For Neville” email, he noted that, as Gordon Taylor was the head of the Professional Footballers Association his voicemails during the period January 2005 to May 2006 would have involved literally thousands of potential stories which could have had media value: “We had no idea until April 2008 that the document they were referring to was connected to the proposed News of the World story in July 2005”.
190.The CMS Committee had suggested that the 24 May 2008 memorandum which states that the “For Neville” email “proves that we actively made use of a large number of extremely private voicemails from Taylor’s telephone” was “in direct contradiction to statements made to the Committee a year later.” Tom Crone told us “What should be clear from the evidence I gave is:
a)That the ‘For Neville’ email was evidence that involvement in illegal phone-hacking among News of the World reporters went beyond Clive Goodman (Q1339);
b)That Ross Hall accepted that he had transcribed and emailed the Gordon Taylor voicemails to Glenn Mulcaire (Q1342), and
c)That the transcript was used as a source for the proposed story about Gordon Taylor (Q1346).
d)That the transcript contained a large number of extremely private voicemails. [ … ]
e)Taken together the above evidence clearly accepts that the News of the World “actively made use of a large number of extremely private emails [sic] from Gordon Taylor’s telephone.” Far from being “directly contradictory” my evidence was wholly consistent with the statement in the 24 May 2007 [sic] memorandum.”
191.Tom Crone criticised the CMS Committee’s:
failure to recognise or allow that the subject may be under a legal or professional duty not to reveal information. For example, the contents of the June 2008 Silverleaf Opinion, the details of the Gordon Taylor settlement and the legal advice and discussions prior to that settlement were subject to legal professional privilege until 2011. The Report, [ … ] makes findings that I attempted to mislead by not revealing matters which, in fact, I was under a legal obligation not to reveal.
192.We note that the CMS Committee did not press for full disclosure, as can be seen from paragraph 277 of the 2012 Report in which the Committee complains that NI will not waive legal professional privilege in relation to Burton Copeland’s advice and investigation.
193.Also in relation to the Silverleaf Opinion, Tom Crone stated that he was not asked about the contents of the Opinion: “We did not hide it—we simply were not asked about it”. This is correct. Once the Silverleaf Opinion had been received by the CMS Committee they wrote to both Colin Myler and Tom Crone, but the questions put to them were about who had seen the Opinion, and not its contents. In his response to the draft paragraphs of criticism, Tom Crone referred us to his letter to our predecessors of 20 August 2012, as to the status of the Silverleaf opinion.
194.In answer to other preliminary inferences in 2015, Tom Crone answered:
The Leveson Committee evidence to which you refer does not show that my “knowledge of illegal activity at the News of the World was considerably greater, and extended over a longer period, than …. indicated to the Committee”. Each of the answers you rely upon refers to my thoughts on matters which were public and widely reported, i.e. the Goodman/Mulcaire sentencing hearing and the “rogue reporter explanation”. In relation to the former I describe “my strong impression”, my “thinking” that certain matters “were likely to be based on real evidence rather than conjecture”. In relation to the latter I describe being “of the view” and you refer to me describing “a view I had in my mind”. With respect “views” and “impressions” do not amount to “knowledge” in relation to factual matters. I believe I made it clear at the Leveson Inquiry that I was not sure about any of these things and was simply forming opinions, albeit fairly strong ones.
[ … ]
Neither my 15 September 2006 email to Mr Coulson referring to what I was told by Ms Brookes nor my 25 November 2006 email advance this matter. The former sets out what she said the police had which seemed to amount to inconclusive circumstantial evidence at best. The latter is conjectural—as far as I knew (as opposed to “impression”) at the time, i.e. November 2006, the other five Mulcaire victims were indeed “nothing to do with us”.
[ … ]
On page 9 you refer to what Mr Thurlbeck told Mr Myler and me at a meeting on 11 July 2009 and in relation to Q1339 from the Chairman you suggest I misled the Committee because I “did not take the opportunity to correct the Chairman’s comment.” With respect, I did correct the Chairman’s comment. My answer to Q1339, as I have set out in my 2012 submissions and in this submission clearly accepted that at the time we “settled for such a large sum” we had seen evidence that Clive Goodman was not “acting entirely alone” and that “the problem of accessing by our reporters ….went beyond the Goodman/Mulcaire situation.” I did correct the Chairman’s comment. I did not evade the questions.
195.In his email of 13 March 2015, Tom Crone stated that he had nothing to add save to reiterate that he did not accept the criticisms. In his response to our further questions in 2016, he explained that the December 2006 Memo was created in circumstances attracting legal professional privilege, and as such he was prevented from discussing it.
196.In coming to our conclusion, we considered what knowledge Tom Crone had on 21 July 2009 of evidence that other NOTW employees had been involved in phone-hacking (and other wrongdoing). We know that he had:
a)Sent and received various emails in the autumn of 2006 in relation to the prosecution of Clive Goodman and seen some of the papers and sat in some legal conferences with Clive Goodman’s legal team in autumn 2006;
b)Drafted his December 2006 Memo (on the then forthcoming Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire sentencing hearing in January 2007);
c)Attended the sentencing hearing on 26 January 2007;
d)Drafted his 24 May 2008 Memorandum (on the Gordon Taylor settlement);
e)Read and advised upon the contents of the Silverleaf Opinion of 3 June 2008;
f)Discussed the settlement of the Taylor case (at various times) with Colin Myler, Julian Pike and James Murdoch in May and June 2008;
g)On 21 July 2009, ten days before the CMS Committee oral evidence session, been told by Neville Thurlbeck of his hacking of David Blunkett’s phone in 2004;
h)Advised on RIPA 2000 in 2004;
i)We also know from his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry that did not believe the one rogue reporter line.
197.The evidence that ten days before the CMS Committee oral evidence session he knew that Neville Thurlbeck had hacked into David Blunkett’s phone in 2004 is damning. It substantially discredits his other evidence. Tom Crone knew that at least one other was involved in phone hacking.
198.We have given particular consideration to Q1339, Q1342 and Q1346 which Tom Crone relies upon within his submissions to us and to the CMS Committee. His argument is that his answers to these questions made clear that he was not asserting the “one rogue reporter” line, and in particular, that his acceptance that part of the Gordon Taylor story must have come from the transcript was a clear acceptance that there was evidence of wider NOTW involvement in phone-hacking beyond Clive Goodman. We consider that the answers to Q1339, Q1342 and Q1346 should be read in the context of the other answers provided by Tom Crone. At Q1339 Tom Crone stated:
[ … ] At no stage during [the police] investigation or our investigation did any evidence arise that the problem of accessing by our reporters or complicity of accessing by our reporters, went beyond the Goodman/Mulcaire situation. The first piece of evidence we saw of that [ … ] was in April 2008 when Mr Taylor’s lawyers produced two documents
199.Tom Crone then referred to the “For Neville” email and February 2005 Contract. On its face this answer would appear to provide a full and truthful answer. The difficulty for Tom Crone is that over the next eight questions, what he means by “first piece of evidence we saw of that” is explained, and this explanation is narrow, namely that yes the transcript exists and was used, and that others at NOTW were aware of phone hacking, but that there is no evidence to connect any person at NOTW, be that the transcriber, Neville Thurlbeck, Greg Miskiw or the NOTW news desk, to the act of accessing or conspiracy to access voicemails. His answers do not reveal what he knew. We consider that his later answers to Q1398 to Q1400, questions which went to the involvement of others, confirm that his answer to Q1339 was not intended to be heard as an admission that NOTW staff other than Clive Goodman had been involved in phone-hacking. In the light of Neville Thurlbeck’s confession ten days before the 2009 evidence session, nor can the answer to Q1342 be read as a full answer.
200.Tom Crone’s submissions to us make particular reference to whether a witness can be fairly criticised for not providing information or evidence on a point if they are not asked about it. We have been careful to look at the questions put and to consider whether they are clear and provide an opportunity for the witness to set out their knowledge, and have considered what they require a truthful and honest answer to encompass. The questions put to Tom Crone were clear, and he had the opportunity to provide full and truthful answers. We note that Q1339 from the Chair included the words “If the position was that, as you have previously said, Clive Goodman was acting entirely alone and that nobody else had knowledge … “; but Tom Crone did not correct the Chair’s understanding within his answer. We also note, in particular Q1398 where he was asked “The question: was anyone else involved with Mulcaire? The answer was: no. Nothing else was found?” to which Tom Crone replied “No evidence was found”. Or Q1399 and Q1400 in which Colin Myler was asked, but Tom Crone answered, questions about how in the light of what was said at the 26 January 2007 sentencing hearing he “could say that this was one rogue exception involving one journalist.” And whether the Judge’s summary that Glenn Mulcaire had “dealt not with Goodman but with others at News International” was wrong, to which Tom Crone answered that he could not remember the prosecution opening with this, or anything from the prosecution to justify that.
201.We also know that the information he had received from attending meetings with Clive Goodman’s legal team, as set out in his December 2006 Memo, and as confirmed by what he heard at the 26 January 2007 sentencing hearing, was such that he did not believe the “one rogue reporter” line; nonetheless, it is clear from his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, that he accepted that there was a “line” that was being taken by the company. Tom Crone states that he did not maintain this line with the CMS Committee. However, his evidence to the Committee does not make clear that he does not accept that line. Q1399 and Q1400 (above) are to the contrary and would not have been answered in that way if that had been Tom Crone’s aim. His answers to the CMS Committee do not suggest that he is at any pains to distance himself from that line.
202.The correct information was within Tom Crone’s knowledge. Even setting aside the evidence contained in Colin Myler’s witness statement to the MPS, the surrounding evidence makes clear that Tom Crone’s answers to the CMS Committee were misleading. He told the Committee that his reaction to the Judge’s comments on the involvement of others at NOTW was “Why is he saying that?”. Whereas he told the Leveson Inquiry that he had formed a strong impression about the involvement of others, having attended that sentencing hearing.
203.We simply do not believe that Tom Crone reached the end of the 2009 evidence session believing that he had told the CMS Committee the whole of his knowledge about the involvement of others in phone hacking. He avoided giving full answers which went to the detail of who was involved. He did not tell the Committee about Neville Thurlbeck, he did not say clearly that he did not believe the one rogue reporter line because he knew others at NOTW were involved, nor did he indicate that Glenn Mulcaire had been “exclusively contracted to the NoW for a number of years”. We think he aimed to sail a very fine line between providing information about the involvement of unnamed and unspecified others, arising from the “For Neville” email and February 2005 Contract and as was clear from the existence of those documents, whilst at the same time not providing any information from his actual knowledge which would name or point to a wider involvement of others at NOTW in phone hacking. He should not have attempted to do this.
204.We have concluded that the allegations are significantly more likely than not to be true, and that Tom Crone misled the CMS Committee by “answering questions falsely about [his] knowledge of evidence that other News of the World employees had been involved in phone-hacking and other wrongdoing”. We make a finding of contempt on this issue.
133 Tom Crone to CoP, 10 February 2015. At paragraph 3 under the sub-heading “General Points of Principle”. Mr Crone also makes this submission in his written submission dated 20 August 2012
134 Tom Crone to CoP, 10 February 2015 – Point 3. Responsibility for Answers Given, under heading “General Points of Principle” – reference made to parts of paras 120 and 130 in 2012 Report.
The claim was brought by Gordon Taylor, who was one of the Mulcaire victims to issue civil proceedings. He sued NGN Ltd and Mulcaire jointly for breach of confidence, misuse of private information and invasion of privacy. He alleged that acting in concert they accessed, listened to and recorded his voicemail messages from about January 2005 until May 2006.
143 Q1512: 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.
148 Qq785 to 796
156 , p.54
157 Tom Crone to CSP, 20 August 2012
158 Tom Crone to CSP, 20 August 2012
159 Lack of precedent; desire to avoid the risk of expensive litigation; context of negotiations; Part 36 protection; desire to prevent further claims; confidentiality.
160 Tom Crone to CoP, 10 February 2015
161 As had been set out in the 24 May 2008 memorandum from Mr Crone to Mr Myler.
162 Michael Silverleaf QC’s Opinion noted that “to have this paraded at a public trial would, I imagine, be extremely damaging to NGN’s public reputation”.
163 Tom Crone to CoP, 10 February 2015
166 Linklaters to CoP, 18 April 2016: – “19.1 …only one member of the CMSSC, Mr Tom Watson MP, was the subject of investigation by employees of NGN. 19.2 The NGN employees who were involved were Mr James Mellor, Mr Mazher Mahmood and Mr Edmondson. The inquiries were undertaken by Mr Derek Webb and not by any NGN employee themselves. The matter which was investigated was not relevant to Mr Watson’s role on the CMSSC or duties as an MP. The investigation was undertaken in September 2009.”
171 , p.52
172 , p.58
173 , pp.63–64
174 The Leveson Inquiry Report, Para 4.34, Part F
175 Tom Crone to CSP, 20 August 2012
176 Q883 Mr Watson: Did you ever order surveillance? Did you ever commission private investigations to do any surveillance at all?
Tom Crone: No, I don’t think I did actually.
177 Tom Crone to CoP, 10 February 2015
178 Put to or discussed by Tom Crone – Q1399 and Q1442.
179 Transcript sentencing hearing 26 January 2007 pp.41–42
180 Transcript sentencing hearing 26 January 2007 p.79
181 Transcript sentencing hearing 26 January 2007 p.179
186 See for example Q1501
188 Tom Crone to CSP, 20 August 2012: Qq735–740, Q809, Qq897–898, Q901, Q937 and Q979
189 Qq819–820, 933–936
192 , Leveson Inquiry
193 , p. 36
194 , p.100
195 Tom Crone to CSP, 20 August 2012
196 By his letter of 20 August 2012, and as reiterated in his response of July 2016 to the draft paragraphs of criticism.
197 Tom Crone to CSP, 20 August 2012
198 “We call on the company to waive legal privilege, so that the Burton Copeland advice and investigations can be published and submitted to the Leveson inquiry”
199 Tom Crone to CSP, 20 August 2012
201 Tom Crone to CSP, 20 August 2012, paragraph 11.
202 Tom Crone to CoP, 10 February 2015
203 Tom Crone to CoP, 13 March 2015 and 12 April 2016
205 See Tom Crone to CSP, 20 August 2012, p.13 of 17 point 7.
13 September 2016