What one British lawmaker called "the most significant piece of evidence" in the phone hacking scandal at News Corp. has been released, and it accuses top company officials of knowing all about the hacking.
According to a report from the British newspaper The Guardian, a letter written by former News of the World reporter Clive Goodman claims hacking was openly discussed at the paper.
Goodman wrote the letter in 2007 after serving four months in jail for hacking into voicemails from the royal family. The letter, addressed to Human Resources, was part of his appeal for being fired for his actions.
He wrote that other reporters were involved in hacking, and that editors knew about it:
This practice was widely discussed in the daily editorial conference, until explicit reference to it was banned by the editor.
The editor to whom he referred is Andy Coulson, who has denied knowing about the hacking. Coulson later served as Prime Minister David Cameron's media adviser before quitting in January. He was arrested last month.
Goodman also claims that Coulson offered to let him keep his job if he agreed not to implicate the paper in hacking when his case got to court.
"Clive Goodman's letter is the most significant piece of evidence that has been revealed so far," said lawmaker Tom Watson. "It completely removes News International's defense. This is one of the largest cover-ups I have seen in my lifetime."
However a separate letter from the company's law firm refutes some of what Goodman wrote, calling it "hard to credit," "self-serving" and "inaccurate and misleading," according to The Guardian.
The new revelations could prove embarrassing and potentially damaging to Rupert and James Murdoch. Both denied during testimony to Parliament that hacking was widespread or that senior officials knew anything about it. Lawmakers revealed on Tuesday that they will call James Murdoch, head of the company's British unit, back to testify further.