Did he or didn’t he? James Murdoch’s future depends on whether he read ‘for Neville’ email

The notorious ‘for Neville’ email circulating at the News of the World in 2008 holds the key to the future of James Murdoch at News Corporation and, very likely, at UK pay-TV operator BSKyB which is 39 per cent owned by News Corp.

The email, sent to the News of the World’s chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck (pictured), makes clear that other NoW reporters apart from jailed royal reporter Clive Goodman were involved in phone hacking. Murdoch says it was sent to him on a Saturday and he didn’t read all of a long email ‘trail.’

Clearly he should have read all of it, if not on that Saturday then back in the office on Monday. But, if his story holds, he might get off with carelessness, even negligence.

In a further twist Thurlbeck, in an interview with the BBC’s Steve Howlett to be broadcast later today, says he doesn’t think Murdoch or News International CEO Rebekah Brooks knew about phone hacking, which is remarkably nice of him considering they sacked him. He says knowledge went ‘just’ to the top of the NoW, which puts former editor Andy Coulson firmly in the frame.

Other factors in this never-ending affair may still emerge of course. A fierce argument is raging about who (if anyone) hacked murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone with Scotland Yard now saying it has no evidence that anyone did, including NoW reporters or phone-hacker-in-chief, private eye Glenn Mulcaire.

And, quite soon, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service have to decide whether or not to proceed with cases against the 16 people (including Brooks and Thurlbeck) who have been arrested on suspicions of various misdemeanours (not phone hacking in the case of Thurlbeck). More evidence, if such there be, will surely emerge then.

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