News24

Hacking scandal journo denies intimidation

2012-03-15 14:00

London - The former chief reporter at the defunct News of the World tabloid has denied allegations of witness intimidation one day after he was arrested for the second time for his suspected role in the phone hacking scandal.

Neville Thurlbeck said in his blog on Thursday that the latest allegations "seem extremely far-fetched to me". He says he vigorously denies all wrongdoing in the long-running scandal.

Thurlbeck says he was arrested because of outspoken comments he has made on his blog concerning the scandal. He says he will continue the blog despite the arrest.

He had also been arrested in April on charges stemming from the hacking scandal, which has led to the closing of the News of the World and the resignations of senior executives at the British arm of Rupert Murdoch's global media empire.

This comes as News Corp. executive James Murdoch acknowledged that he could have done more to get to grips with the phone hacking scandal that has rocked Britain and threatened his place as the likely heir to his father's global media empire.

James Murdoch's admission came on Wednesday in a seven-page letter written to British parliamentarians investigating the scandal.

False assurances

In it, the 39-year-old repeated his insistence that he didn't know the extent of the illegal behaviour at the News of the World tabloid newspaper, saying that the details had been hidden from him by members of his staff.

"It would have been better if I had asked more questions," Murdoch told the House of Commons' media committee. "However the truth is that incomplete answers and what now appear to be false assurances were given to the questions that I asked."

Murdoch has already appeared twice before lawmakers, who grilled him in detail about what he knew about the phone hacking scandal and alleged attempts to conceal evidence of illegal activity.

Murdoch was the one who signed off on a substantial settlement to one of the first known victims of the practice. The company's former in-house lawyer has said the payoff was aimed at keeping a lid on the scandal, but Murdoch says he had no knowledge of wider wrongdoing and was merely following expert advice.

James Murdoch himself has resigned from News International, although he retains a senior position in News Corp. and said in his letter that those who saw his resignation as a tacit admission of guilt were wrong.