Letter From 2007 Clearing News of the World Comes Under Fire

Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

A document drawn up by lawyers defending the newspaper's senior editors of having knowledge of phone-hacking crimes is now being called into question.

It's the scandal that just keeps growing. 

A one-paragraph letter produced in 2007 that helped to convince lawmakers of the innocence of News of the World's senior editors in the recently-shuttered paper's phone-hacking scandal is now being investigated, reports the New York Times

PHOTOS: News of the World's Top 10 Scandals

The letter, written by London law firm Harbottle & Lewis, which was hired to review the emails of the tabloid's royal reporter, Clive Goodman, said NOTW's senior-level staff were not knowledgeable of Goodman's Illegal activity. 

Its final draft, dated May 29, 2007 read: “I can confirm that we did not find anything in those e-mails which appeared to us to be reasonable evidence that Clive Goodman’s illegal actions were known about and supported by both or either of Andy Coulson, the editor, and Neil Wallis, the deputy editor, and/or that Ian Edmondson, the news editor, and others were carrying out similar procedures.”

STORY: Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks Summoned to Answer Phone Hacking Allegations

But, the recent release of more information regarding the emails has brought the letter's content -- and whether both the paper and its parent company, News International, participated in a four-year coverup -- into question. 

The Times reports that two people familiar with the contents of the emails, say they show knowledge of payoffs being issued to the police by NOTW staffers in exchange for information. Citing correspondences between Goodman and the tabloid's former top editor Coulson (who was arrested July 8), the report says Goodman specifically requested money to pay Scotland Yard contacts as well as  £1,000 for a police officer's classified Green Book directory (containing the personal phone numbers of the queen and other members of the royal family). 

STORY: Second Murdered Girl Tied to News of the World Phone Hacking

The emails were not turned over to British police until last month, despite Harbottle & Lewis and News International's knowledge of them in 2007 when the investigation began. 

This news comes amidst reports that BSkyB chairman and News Corp deupty COO James Murdoch will "very likely" be called before Parliament again to answer additional questions on the ever-widening phone-hacking scandal.