March 7, 2012 by staff
Ian Edmondson, Ian Edmondson, the former head of news at the News of the World, leaves the high court after giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images
The former news editor of the News of the World has contradicted evidence given to the Leveson inquiry by his one time editor Colin Myler over what a spokesman for the McCanns was told about the planned publication of Kate McCann’s diary by the now closed Sunday tabloid in 2008.
Ian Edmondson, giving evidence to the inquiry on Thursday, said he was instructed by Myler to call Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns public relations representative, and tell him only in “very woolly” terms that the newspaper would be running a story about them without giving the family any indication that the tabloid was going to publish her diaries in full.
The editor’s instruction, Edmondson said, was to give Mitchell the impression “that we were running a story, but not tell him specifically what story” and that “certainly don’t tell him [Mitchell] that we were in possession of the complete diaries”. Myler, Edmondson added, was “frightened that if Clarence knew what we had, he might take action”.
Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, asked Edmondson what was the purpose of “having an ambiguous or woolly conversation?” Edmondson replied that the purpose would be “in order to blame Clarence Mitchell that he hadn’t acted properly upon instructions” if there was a row post-publication.
Edmondson’s appearance before Lord Justice Leveson was the first time he has spoken publicly since he was arrested and bailed on suspicion of phone hacking in April of last year. The former News of the World news editor was not asked any questions about hacking because of the ongoing police inquiry.
Edmondson’s evidence directly contradicts that given by Myler to the Leveson inquiry on 14 December. Myler was asked: “Did Mr Edmondson make it clear to you that he had made it clear to Mr Mitchell that he had the whole diary and was going to cause extracts from it to be published in the News of the World?”
In response, Myler said: “That’s what he led me to believe, yes.”
Kate McCann told the Leveson inquiry in November that she felt “mentally raped” by the News of the World’s decision to publish her diaries in full – diaries that she had written after her daughter Madeleine had disappeared on holiday in Portugal in 2007, and which were subsquently seized by the Portuguese police. The diaries were translated into Portuguese and acquired by the News of the World, which retranslated them to publish them.
A week later, the News of the World printed an apology for publishing the diaries, and it subsequently emerged that the Murdoch-owned title paid £125,000 to the fund for finding Madeleine.
Edmondson told the inquiry on Thursday that Myler’s instruction to ring Mitchell came after a meeting that he, Myler and the News of the World’s former legal manager Tom Crone had ahead of publication. Edmondson said that Crone gave “his legal view, which I’m told I’m not allowed to repeat, but which dismayed, shall I say, Mr Myler”. The News of the World editor then asked Edmondson to call Mitchell.
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