The Tabloid Turncoat

by peterjukes

Myler pushed the matter up the chain of command. “Responsibility regarding the corporate governance of a company goes beyond my pay grade,” he later noted. On June 7, 2008, he forwarded the troubling news to James Murdoch, Rupert’s son and the chairman of News Corp. Europe and Asia, which oversees News International.

“It is as bad as we feared,” he wrote to James, referring to Taylor’s vindictiveness. Taylor wanted the paper “to suffer” or he wanted to be “made rich.” He was demanding seven figures “to keep the matter confidential,” according to one account.

For Myler, James wasn’t an ideal person to be in a foxhole with. “They were like alien life-forms,” said a veteran Fleet Street editor. James doesn’t care about newspapers, which don’t make the company much money. He considers himself a numbers-driven, unsentimental modern ­executive. “James would be at a meeting with editors, and he’d talk about ‘direct transactional relationships’ with ‘customers,’ not ‘readers,’ ” recounts a journalist. To Myler, James spoke a foreign language. “He came into a party sighing, ‘Oh, I just met with James for an hour, and I have no idea what he was saying,’ ” reported a fellow editor.

But on June 10, 2008, Myler and James huddled together in James’s office to decide the fate of the Taylor case. Tom Crone, the paper’s lawyer, joined them. What was clear to everyone was that it would be best if Taylor’s lawsuit disappeared. For James, too, phone hacking was a problem created by others—he’d been in charge of the newspapers for only six months at the time. “Nobody was very keen on [a trial],” Myler testified. Myler, like others, insisted that the suit was a business matter. “[Newspapers] deal with very complex and significant negotiations throughout the course of their business very regularly,” Myler testified. News International agreed to pay Taylor roughly £700,000, an extraordinary sum, in Myler’s view—after all, the paper hadn’t published a story using the phone messages. Myler had another concern—he’s a newsman who trades in secrets for a living, so he knew better than anyone that anything, even a secret settlement, can become public.

via The Tabloid Turncoat.