HACKGATE DAY 217: Newscorp back on front pages as James Murdoch & Andy Coulson shown to have lied.

James Murdoch implicated directly in Gordon Taylor pay-off

Harbottle & Lewis testimony damns Newscorp version of emails letter

During the company’s settlement with Gordon Taylor, solicitor Mark Lewis was told “You are negotiating with Murdoch”. In his letter to the Culture, Media & Sport Committee, Mr Lewis says that he assumed this was James, and not Rupert. This blows away what was left of the younger Murdoch’s so-called evidence to the CM&S.

It seems unbelievable that just two months ago, the Government was considering Newscorp as the main BBC competitor in the UK; that deaf and blind Jeremy Hunt was quite happy to keep saying yes to their BSkyB takeover plans; and that David Cameron was oiling the wheels behind the scenes. Now an even deeper layer of untruth, subterfuge and amoral obstruction of the law has been laid before the public….in one tremendous rush that left the Wapping Liars reeling yesterday.

Among those who’ve been working on this story for a while, there is a tendency to assume a public level of interest that doesn’t exist. So even though yesterday it emerged (after the CM&S committee had dredged through another pile of emails) that James Murdoch had lied to MPs – and Andy Coulson had lied to everyone – the problem remains that specialists in the case weren’t remotely surprised, and most of the public are all revelationed out when it comes to Newscorp perfidy. The big question now is whether that public is prepared to topple a government – at this, the most delicate time since 1940 – as the story creeps ever closer to Downing Street.

Described by the omnipresent MP Tom Watson as “devastating evidence”, the documents released on Tuesday include a letter by Clive Goodman to his former employer News International in which he claims phone hacking was widespread and known about by senior figures in the company. What’s more, the former Newscorp legal advisers Harbottle & Lewis attacked the Murdochs “self-serving” version of events, and said that its investigation had been limited per se by the design of News International. (Sources close to the issue told The Slog that the ‘clean bill of health’ wasn’t needed anyway….and that Newscorp pushed H&L to write something in the first place). And finally, former News of the World legal boss Tom Crone said he had “no doubt” that he informed James Murdoch of an email which indicated phone hacking was widespread at the newspaper. Colin Myers has already stated the same thing with blinding clarity.

The Slog predicted three weeks ago that there would be no real Parliamentary recess this year. The intervening riots have made that a certainty: politics is still in full swing, and Tom Watson scents blood on Hackgate….while busily researching in readiness for what he claims in private will be “astonishing” evidence of illegal blagging into the emails of the rich, famous – and highly-placed in Government.

The Prime Minister was forced, during the Hackgate Commons debate, to deny eleven times that he had ever discussed “anything inappropriate” with the Murdochs and their allies before and during the Christmas break last year…and as recently as March this year. Nobody believes him on this. While Coulson could blow a hole in Cameron’s evidence that he sought a denial of wrongdoing from his former press chief, it is going to take a James Murdoch facing criminal charges (or a Rebekah Brooks) to in turn rubbish those eleven denials made before Parliament.

I doubt if even David Cameron could survive that. But whether it gets to that at all depends as much on what new Hackgate sensation turns up, what exactly Tom Watson knows about pc blagging….and what other socio-economic crises the PM is dealing with at the time.

In the meantime, I for one think it’s time the spotlight was turned back towards MGN and their former star editor, Piers Morgan.

Related: Why David Cameron’s career is on a knife-edge