June 9, 2023

News of the World reporter slams ex-employer

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LONDON (AP) — A News of the World reporter implicated in Britain’s phone hacking scandal has slammed Rupert Murdoch’s News International for his sacking from the tabloid, insisting he was innocent and unfairly dismissed.

Neville Thurlbeck’s comments Friday mark his first public defense of his role at the newspaper, which folded after 168 years under the weight of the scandal.

“I took no part in the matter which has led to my dismissal after 21 years of service,” Thurlbeck, 49, said in a statement. “I say this most emphatically and with certainty and confidence that the allegation which led to my dismissal will eventually be shown to be false.”

Thurlbeck’s name has long been linked to the scandal that has enveloped Britain’s press, and threatened Murdoch’s global media empire.

It has claimed the jobs of high-profile executives at News International, along with the prime minister’s communications director, Andy Coulson, and high-ranking officers of the Metropolitan Police Service. Ultimately, it forced Murdoch to scupper his multibillion pound (dollar) bid for satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

Thurlbeck — then the News of the World’s chief reporter — was arrested in April on suspicion of conspiring to intercept voicemail messages and released on bail.

He has since lost his job with News International, and on Sept. 13 filed an unfair dismissal claim against his previous employers at a London employment tribunal.

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