LONDON: Two of Rupert Murdoch's most senior former executives are likely to be admonished by MPs after being found in contempt of Parliament over evidence they gave to a Commons committee about the phone-hacking scandal.
The House of Commons committee of privileges recommended that MPs should censure Colin Myler and Tom Crone for giving misleading evidence over claims that phone hacking at the Sunday tabloid was confined to a single "rogue reporter".
This means that MPs in the Commons will debate a motion which "formally admonishes" both Mr Myler and Mr Crone and considers that both men "misled the culture, media and sport committee".
The privileges committee launched an investigation in response to complaints from the culture committee about its inquiries into the phone-hacking scandal, which led to the closure of the News of the World in 2011.
Mr Myler, its editor, was found to have misled the committee by denying that he was aware of hacking and other wrong-doing by employees of the best-selling paper other than royal correspondent Clive Goodman, who was jailed in 2007 for conspiring to eavesdrop on private voicemail messages.
Mr Crone, the paper's lawyer, misled the committee on the same issue, and in relation to a settlement reached with Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor, the report found. However, it found there was not enough evidence to show that Mr Crone sought to mislead MPs about the commissioning of surveillance.
The committee did not uphold similar allegations against one-time News International executive chairman Les Hinton - a senior associate of the company's owner Rupert Murdoch and found that NI did not commit contempt as a company. Allegations Mr Hinton sought to mislead the committee over payoffs to Mr Goodman, and misled it over the "rogue reporter" question, did not meet the required standards of proof to be upheld. There was also "insufficient evidence" of a breach of parliamentary privilege on the part of NI, said the committee.
NI's initial claim that Mr Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire had been acting alone in listening in to the private phone messages of people in the public eye collapsed after the emergence of an email which indicated that others at the newspaper were aware of what was going on.
Mr Myler said he was "extremely disappointed" by the ruling, which he said was contradicted by evidence in its own report. Mr Crone added: "I stand by the evidence I gave on both of the issues they have highlighted." Mr Hinton said his exoneration was "too little and too late" and said he had been the victim of a "free-for-all character assassination" since the 2012 hearing.