Tom Crone and Colin Myler were well aware that the statement they were about to make could prove fatal to James Murdoch.This brings the entire scandal right into the office of the two Murdochs. There will be little doubt that the criminal actions of News Corporation organizations was policy from the very top and that both the Murdochs lied about it to Parliament.
When the Guardian pointed out in the wake of his parliamentary testimony that Murdoch's son had sought to blame them for concealment, one friend of the two men said: "To contradict James will be as good as coming out and calling him a liar."
Myler and Crone, the News of the World's then editor and News International's top newspaper lawyer, both of whom have lost their jobs in the wake of the phone-hacking affair, subsequently spent the day debating what to do.
If their statement of Thursday nightis correct, Rupert's son will have proved to have misled parliament. He will also have destroyed the Murdoch family's last line of defence against the scandal – that they knew nothing, and had been betrayed by those underlings they trusted.
Myler and Crone are, in effect, accusing James Murdoch of being part of the cover-up, one in which the company's executives vainly twisted and turned to conceal the truth about phone hacking and blame it on a single "rogue reporter".
James Murdoch's crucial claim to the committee was that he had personally agreed to a massive payout, of £700,000 to hacking victim Gordon Taylor, in ignorance of the true facts. He said Crone and Myler had told him the payout was legally necessary.
The Labour MP Tom Watson, one of the affair's most persistent investigators, extracted from Murdoch towards the end of the committee session what was to prove an explosive claim.
He claimed that Crone and Myler had concealed from him the crucial piece of evidence in the case – that an email had come to light with a voicemail hacking transcript, marked "for Neville", ie Neville Thurlbeck, the News of the World chief reporter.
The existence of this email, if made public, would explode the "rogue reporter" defence and begin to implicate the rest of the NoW newsroom. It was – and is – the smoking gun in the whole hacking case.
Is this enough to challenge the News Corp ownership of American TV licenses? It should be.
It is my strong opinion that the inheritors of large fortunes mostly spend their lives defending the social position their inherited wealth has given them. Such people live in fear of somehow losing the fortune they were given and could not replace with their own skills. The fear of loss of their fortune drives them to immoral actions. Both Murdochs, father and son, are such inheritors of a fortune they must defend.