Happy families at NOTW?

Written by Total Politics has a free weekly Friday email bulletin. Follow this link to register. on 6 September 2011 in Diary
There was 'family compassion' on NOTW, according to witnesses at the phone hacking committee hearing today. But with conflicting evidence, secret dossiers on private lives and many questions unanswered, the 'family' might be growing apart

News of the World seems a pretty family-friendly place to work. Well, if you're Clive Goodman, at least.

Based on evidence given at the culture, media and sport select committee today, you can receive a year's salary (around £90,000) after breaking the law, going to prison and being sacked.

Then you can be paid a further £140,000 plus £30,000 in a settlement to avoid an employment tribunal.

Again, if you're Clive Goodman.

MPs today asked why Goodman was paid a year's salary after leaving the paper.

Supposedly, News International chairman Les Hinton wanted to do it as "a gesture of goodwill because of his family situation", according to Jonathan Chapman, the former director of legal affairs for News International and a witness before the committee.

The "gratuitous" extra payment was the equivalent to a year's salary, the committee was told.

Furthermore, in July 2007, News International agreed to make a "settlement payment" to Goodman. The deal was struck after Goodman threatened to go to an employment tribunal where his allegations would have had a public airing.

Again, Chapman said that "Mr Hinton took the decision" to make the settlement payment.

"It was a pragmatic, commercial business decision," Chapman said.

What about the idea that Goodman might be able to return to the paper once he had served his sentence?

Tom Crone, the former legal manager of News Group Newspapers, answered this one.

"He, Mr [Andy] Coulson [former NOTW editor], was hoping that he could persuade the company that [Clive Goodman] could come back and work for the company... When I spoke to Clive, I relayed that to him."

Crone explained that Coulson wanted to rehire Goodman as a "subeditor or a book filleter"

"I felt quite sorry for Clive actually," Crone added.

Former legal affairs director Chapman was asked whether he would be treated in the same way as Goodman had he gone to prison.

"I don't think I would be, no," he replied. "I have noted on the editorial side at News International there has always been more of a feeling of family compassion. I don't think there is anything sinister in that, there is just a feeling of family on newspapers."

Unfortunately, that family seems to have become pretty dysfunctional.

As the committee met, a leaked letter from Tom Mockridge revealed that only 23 jobs have been found for 280 News of the World staff who lost their jobs. (After News International said it would try to find jobs for the "vast majority" of its staff.)

News International is also to cut 110 jobs from its workforce.

Plus, almost half of the former News of the World staff have chosen to take voluntary redundancy.

Every family has its problems.

But some families' problems are bigger than others...

For coverage of the hearing as it happened, see our live blog

Tags: Phone hacking

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