I thought it might be interesting to establish some timeline information about News International e-mail disclosures and deletions, in the light of this piece in the Torygraph. As we know, the Telegraph is now opposed to the Osborne/Gove Murdoch group in the Tories, so it has no reason to carry water for Murdoch.
31st September 2004 – According to News International Chief Information Officer Paul Cheesborough, NI archived e-mail up to this date was deleted.
2005 – NI solicitor Julian Pike will later say that e-mail exists up to 2005. See 23rd March 2011.
Kickoff – 2006. 1st police inquiry into Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman. Police raid Wapping, only search Goodman’s desk, by agreement with NI management.
29th November 2006 – Goodman and Mulcaire convicted.
“Early” 2007 – 2,500 e-mails disclosed to Harbottle & Lewis in parallel litigation (Goodman’s employment tribunal).
29th May, 2007 – Harbottle & Lewis write to NI, saying they reviewed them and found nothing.
31st September 2007 – E-mail from before this date was meant to be deleted (see January, 2011). NI operates a policy of flushing e-mail every three years, clearly.
December, 2007 – James Murdoch becomes the boss.
2008 – First civil litigation against NI, NI becomes bound to preserve evidence.
April, 2008 – James Murdoch authorises Gordon Taylor’s payoff.
November, 2009 – E-Mail Deletion Policy announced internally.
eliminate in a consistent manner across News International (subject to compliance with legal and regulatory requirements) emails that could be unhelpful in the context of future litigation in which an NI company is a defendant
November, 2009 – reports of frequent outages in the e-mail archive system.
January, 2010 – It is decided to destroy all archive e-mail before this point.
April, 2010 – HCL deletes three data sets. One is a public folder on a production (rather than archive) server “owned by a user who no longer needed the emails”.
May, 2010 – NI exec demands to know if e-mails destroyed.
May, 2010 – 200,000 delivery status notification messages deleted, plus 21,000 messages in an outbox, during recovery from system failure.
June, 2010 – NI solicitor, Julian Pike, will claim, falsely, that all e-mail before this point has been destroyed. See December 2010.
29th July, 2010 – “How come we still haven’t done the e-mail policy?” i.e. the deletion has not yet happened.
July 2010 – William Lewis joins NI.
4th August, 2010 – “Everyone needs to know e-mail before January 2010 will not be kept” i.e. still not deleted.
6th September, 2010 – Sienna Miller’s lawyers demand that e-mail be preserved.
9th September, 2010 – IT employee says “there is a senior management requirement to delete this data as quickly as possible but it need to be done in commercial boundaries”. i.e. data still there, and contractual issues with the IT outsourcers holding up the process.
September, 2010 – unspecified deletions of “historic” e-mail in connection with system stability problem.
October 2010 – News International papers move. Hard disk drives in NI workstations (not just the NOTW) are replaced and destroyed, but serverside e-mail is backed up at least in part.
December, 2010 – NOTW Scottish Editor Bob Bird tells Sheridan trial that the archived e-mail has been lost en route to HCL in Mumbai. This is entirely false.
December, 2010 – Julian Pike, solicitor for NI from Farrar & Co., tells the High Court that no e-mail exists beyond six months ago. This is also false.
January, 2011 – Paul Cheesbrough, News International IT chief, says archived e-mail back to 31st September 2007 has been destroyed. This is false.
January, 2011 – HCL are asked to destroy a particular database, refer NI to system vendor.
January, 2011 – NI executives demand destruction of 500GB of e-mail held at Essential Computing, Bristol. See 8th July 2011.
January 7th, 2011 – Miller’s lawyers release information about their case to NI in discovery.
January 12th, 2011 – NI managers order a halt to deletion, and give instructions to preserve e-mail.
Later in January, 2011 – 3 e-mails given to police. New police inquiry begins.
February, 2011 – some e-mail is lost in a software upgrade.
March 23, 2011 – “Don’t tell him!” Pike apologises to the High Court, admits that no e-mail has gone missing in India, admits that archives exist back to 2005. Pike blames Tom Crone, who claims that he was misled by another, unnamed NI executive.
June, 2011 – Information Commissioner abandons inquiry into e-mails disappearing from NI. NI had claimed that the data had disappeared en route to India.
July, 2011 – (i.e. in full crisis mode) an NI exec travels to “the company storage facility” and removes 6 boxes of unspecified records regarding themselves (possibly same person who spoke to Crone).
7th July, 2011 – Evening Strangler first reports NI bribes to police.
8th July, 2011 – Key Guardian story. An NI executive, not named but apparently identified by police, demanded the destruction of 500GB of archive e-mail in January 2011, around the time of the resumed police inquiry. First mention of another IT outsourcing company, Essential Computing, in the UK.
Police believe they have identified the executive responsible by following an electronic audit trail. They have also attempted to retrieve the lost data. The Crown Prosecution Service is believed to have been asked whether the executive can be charged with perverting the course of justice.
At the heart of the affair is a data company, Essential Computing, based near Bristol. Staff there have been interviewed by Operation Weeting. One source speculated that this company had compelled NI to admit that the archive existed.
The Guardian understands that Essential Computing has co-operated with police and provided evidence about an alleged attempt by the NI executive to destroy part of the archive while they were working with it. This is said to have happened after the executive discovered that the company retained material of which NI was unaware.
This seems to be a critical moment
10th July, 2011 – William Lewis of NI discovers 2007 e-mail dump to Harbottle & Lewis, finds evidence. Only finds 300 out of 2,500 messages – rest still unaccounted for.
July, 2011 – Management & Standards Committee starts functioning with managers from News Corp outside the UK, cooperating with police.
July, 2011 – New York Post staffers ordered to preserve documents. Probably reflects News Corp strategic decision to cooperate
July, 2011 – some e-mail is deleted by HCL due to inconsistency between systems after a migration.
September 7th, 2011 – HCL representatives tell House of Commons that NI demanded deletion of e-mail on 9 occasions starting in April, 2010.
September 13th, 2011 – A large quantity of e-mail is discovered at News International.
October, 2011 – Computer forensics work begins on supposedly deleted e-mail archives.
December, 2011 – “Data Pool 3” e-mail archive is successfully restored from backup.