News Corp.'s phone hacking scandal is quickly becoming a phone and computer hacking scandal. The layers between the company's executives and specific hacking incidents seem to be stacking up. News Corp. contracter HCL told Parliament on Monday that they knew of nine separate occasions that Murdoch's British newspaper company News International asked for large amounts of emails between April 2010 and July 2011. The Indian technology firm denies any wrongdoing, saying that a third unnamed company actually did the deleting, and added that the orders to delete the emails showed "nothing which appeared abnormal, untoward or inconsistent with its contractual role." In total, hundreds of thousands of emails were deleted.
This latest revelation creates more questions that answers. According to The Guardian, many of the deletions sound like routine maintenance like removing "200,000 emails stuck in an outbox" in May 2010--followed by a second round of archive deletions in September 2010--and the deletion of a folder that belonged to "a user who no longer needed the emails." However, a month ago The Guardian reported on the deletion of millions of emails from an archive that held incriminating daily exchanges between employees of News of the World. HCL's denial of wrong-doing gives no clues as to whether the two massive email purges could be linked.
Nevertheless, investigators seem to be realizing how email could produce the scandal's smoking gun. Over the weekend, The New York Times reported on one high-profile exchange between News International executives and the law firm Harbottle and Lewis. The firm was hired to review about 2,500 emails linked to former News of the World reporter Clive Goodman for clues about phone hacking knowledge. While the firm reported no indication of phone hacking, there are clues that News International bosses both knew about and tried to cover up incidents of bribing police. Parliament has asked Harbottle and Lewis to explain the email exchanges and produce the emails themselves. According to The Independent, the firm's senior lawyers are "furious" about being implicated in the scandal.