It came as it emerged that James Murdoch could be asked to explain himself to MPs after two former News of the World staff – the last editor of the paper and its long-time lawyer – said he was “mistaken” in his evidence to Parliament earlier this week. News Corp said Mr Murdoch “stands by his testimony” given to a select committee.
News International confirmed in a statement that a member of staff had been dismissed and reports suggested it was Mark Nixson, features editor at the daily newspaper who was formerly the news editor at the company’s Sunday tabloid.
A spokeswoman said: “News Corporation’s Management and Standards Committee (MSC) can confirm that News International today terminated the contract of a member of staff in relation to his previous work at the News of the World.
“The MSC is authorised to co-operate fully with all relevant investigations and inquiries in the News of the World phone-hacking case, police payments and all other related issues across News International, as well as conducting its own inquiries where appropriate.”
In another fast moving day of events, it emerged Greg Miskiw, a former news editor of the News of the World, would return to the UK from his home in the US to speak to police.
But the most sensational development came when two senior former News of the World staff cast doubt on Mr Murdoch’s testimony to MPs on Tuesday.
During the grilling, Mr Murdoch Jnr told a select committee he was not aware of a crucial email, dubbed the “for Neville” message, before he signed off a payout to Gordon Taylor from the Professional Footballers Association.
But Colin Myler, who edited the last edition of the paper two weeks ago, and Tom Crone, the paper’s long time lawyer, said he had been aware of the email, allegedly a transcript of hacked voicemail messages.
In a statement they said: “Just by way of clarification relating to Tuesday’s CMS Select Committee hearing, we would like to point out that James Murdoch’s recollection of what he was told when agreeing to settle the Gordon Taylor litigation was mistaken.
“In fact, we did inform him of the ‘for Neville’ email which had been produced to us by Gordon Taylor’s lawyers.”
Neville is thought to be Neville Thurlbeck, the paper’s former chief reporter.
Last night it was understood that John Whittingdale, the chairman of the committee, was considering asking Mr Murdoch for further clarification.
It came as further questions emerged over the fact Andy Coulson, a former News of the World editor and David Cameron’s one-time spin doctor, did not have high level security clearance. Tony Blair’s former chief of staff Jonathan Powell said it would have been inconceivable for a communica- tions chief not to have such clearance during Labour’s time in power.
Labour also wrote to Sir Gus O’Donnell, the cabinet secretary, asking who had made the decision about what level of clearance should be sought.