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James Murdoch's lawyers confirm Tom Watson was put under surveillance

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James Murdoch's lawyers confirm Tom Watson was put under surveillance

Post by Guest on 07.12.11 21:31



James Murdoch's lawyers confirm Tom Watson was put under surveillance

News Corp lawyers say three NI staff were involved in setting up monitoring, but it is not appropriate to name them

Lisa O'Carroll

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 7 December 2011 19.16 GMT


James Murdoch's lawyers have responded to a question from MPs by confirming that Tom Watson was put under surveillance. Photograph: PA


James Murdoch's lawyers have confirmed that Labour MP Tom Watson was put under surveillance for a week in 2009, in a letter sent to Parliament.

Three News International employees were involved in setting up the monitoring of Watson, an outspoken critic of the company, the letter to MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee published on Wednesday added.

Linkaters, the lawyers for Murdoch and News Corporation, added that "we do not think it appropriate to name names" and said they had discussed this with the Metropolitan police who "share this view".

Responding on behalf of James Murdoch, the law firm also said it is involved in an ongoing internal inquiry as to how a private detective was hired to follow Watson and document his movements.

However, Linklaters, who act for Murdoch and News Corporation, has been able to confirm that Derek Webb, a private investigator, was hired to tail Watson between Monday 28 September 2009 and Friday, 2 October 2009.

The law firm's letter adds that there is no evidence that any other MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee were put under surveillance.

The affair is being investigated by News Corporation's management and standards committee, following allegations that investigators had targeted all the members of the select committee who took part in the inquiry into phone hacking that year.

"The MSC has seen no information yet to suggest that any other member of the committee (or their family or friends) was under surveillance," law firm Linklaters wrote.

Last month MP Louise Mensch, a Conservative commitee member, called on News International to make "full disclosure" following claims that the entire committee had been followed.

"The committee will want to know if the same person who ordered the surveillance of the lawyers is the same person who allegedly ordered it on select committee members," Mensch said.

The Linklaters letter also provides fresh detail on the close relationship between the Murdoch publishing empire and PR veteran Max Clifford.

It discloses that the former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks reached ageement with him to provide stories for a retainer of £200,000 a year. There was no written agreement for this arrangement.


The arrangement was negotiated in Febuary 2010 and contract Clifford to "help with stories and would be paid a retainer of £200,000 per annum for two years".

Webb, a former police officer, claimed last month that the News of the World paid him to target more than 90 people, including Prince William, former attorney general Lord Goldsmith and Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe's parents, over eight years until this July.

He was also asked to tail two of the solicitors acting for phone hacking victims as part of an alleged plot by News International to prove professional misconduct and force them off their legal cases.

One of those lawyers, Mark Lewis, represents some of the most high profile victims including Milly Dowler's family and last week told the Leveson inquiry that News International had "sought to "destroy" him.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/dec/07/james-murdoch-tom-watson-surveillance?CMP=twt_gu
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