LONDON Two former executives from Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper arm should be formally admonished after misleading a parliamentary committee investigating claims of phone-hacking, lawmakers said on Wednesday.
Colin Myler, the former editor of the defunct News of the World newspaper, and Tom Crone, the tabloid's top lawyer, were found in contempt of the House of Commons over evidence they gave to its Culture, Media and Sport Committee in 2009, a report by parliament's Privileges Committee found.
Myler and Crone have denied misleading lawmakers.
The News of the World newspaper closed in 2011 after it was revealed journalists on the paper had been involved in hacking the voicemails on mobile phones of thousands of people, including that belonging to a murdered schoolgirl, to find exclusive stories.
The paper's former editor Andy Coulson and a number of other former staff were convicted and jailed in 2014.
Following a lengthy inquiry into phone-hacking, the culture committee concluded in 2012 that media mogul Murdoch was not fit to run a major international company and raised questions about the competency of his son James.
The report also singled out the paper's final editor Myler, Crone and Les Hinton, the ex-head of his British newspaper arm then called News International, for having misled them in testimony.
The Privileges Committee said it agreed with the conclusion that Myler and Crone had answered "questions falsely about [their] knowledge of evidence that other News of the World employees had been involved in phone‐hacking and other wrongdoing".
However, it said there was insufficient evidence to find Hinton or News International guilty of contempt.
In statements issued to media, both Crone and Myler disputed the conclusion and denied misleading lawmakers.
"Had the appropriate standard of proof been properly applied, the Privileges Committee could not have reached a finding of contempt against me, given that the report identifies evidence which plainly contradicts their conclusions," Myler said.
The Privileges Committee recommended the House of Commons agreed a motion formally admonishing the men for their conduct, a penalty that amounts to a slap on the wrist.
(Reporting by Michael Holden)