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Former NI legal chief dismisses “unfounded” allegations

Former NI legal chief dismisses “unfounded” allegations

Former News International legal manager Tom Crone has dismissed “unfounded” claims that he misled MPs during the phone-hacking inquiry in the UK.

A report released yesterday (1 May) alleged Crone gave misleading details to the Commons’ Culture, Media and Sports (CMS) Select Committee last year.

The report said the Committee had unanimously concluded that Crone had deliberately misled MPs when, as an executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, he appeared before the panel to answer questions on phone hacking at the now-defunct News of the Worldnewspaper.

Crone, who left the newspaper in 2011, admitted there were “valid criticisms” of his conduct over phone hacking, and praised the “good work” of the Committee, which has published its long-awaited report into the hacking scandal.

But he insisted he did not accept its findings that his evidence was “misleading”.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I entirely accept the News of the World phone-hacking scandal is a matter of enormous public importance which needed a full and proper investigation and I in no way wish to diminish the good work undertaken by the Committee,” said Crone in a statement.

“I accept that there are valid criticisms of my conduct in this matter but, for the second time in a week, I seem to be the subject of serious allegations which lack foundation.”

Mistake

Crone added that: “The CMS Select Committee has concluded that I gave misleading evidence in three specific areas. I do not accept this.

“In particular, the Committee finds that I misled it by giving a ‘counter-impression’ on certain matters. In terms of judicial or formal rulings on evidence, ‘counter-impression’ seems a particularly subjective concept upon which to base such serious allegations.”

The statement comes hot on the heels of Crone accusing Rupert Murdoch of a “shameful lie”, after the Australian media mogul told the Leveson Inquiry he had been a “victim” of the “culture of cover up” at the newspaper, which he suggested was down to a “clever lawyer and drinking pal of the journalists”.

Crone condemned Murdoch's version of events as “wholly wrong” and claimed the attack “greatly demeans him”.

Meanwhile, London-based law firm Harbottle & Lewis, which was accused by Murdoch of making “a major mistake” in underestimating the scale of the phone-hacking scandal, has been cleared by the CMS Select Committee report.

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