Indian outsourcer HCL Technologies (BOM:532281) says Rupert Murdoch's News International (NASDAQ:NWSA) told it to delete email nine times over the last 16 months. As the fallout from the voicemail hacking scandal continues, there's more grist for the dirty-digger-hate machine.
- On the one hand, tinkering with email archives can give the impression that there's something to hide.
- On The Other Hand, HCL seems at pains to point out that these were normal, operational procedures, and -- by implication -- not destruction of incriminating evidence. No way; not at all; absolutely not; uh-uh.
Plus, today's skateboarding duck: A local sign in a local car park for local people...
John Ribeiro reports:
HCL said that it was asked on nine occasions to work on the deletions [from] the email archival system where the bulk of old email is kept...according to the letter. ... HCL said it was not aware of any wrongdoing.
HCL was responding through its solicitors...to a letter last month from Keith Vaz, chairman of the [Home Affairs] committee. HCL said [the] nine instances of discussion on e-mail deletions all...occurred between April 2010 and July 2011.
"My client is aware of nothing which appears abnormal, untoward or inconsistent with its contractual role," the solicitor...said.
An unnamed vendor has a separate "email archival system" contract with News International, noted HCL...[and] that the "bulk of old emails (greater than two weeks) lie in that system."
In September 2010, the "historic email archives" were pruned. ... HCL was asked to coordinate with the unnamed third-party vendor for deletion of emails from that system.
Nick Farrell takes a slightly more cynical view:
[HCL] said that it is up to News International, the police and Vaz's committee as to whether there was any other agenda or subtext when issues of deletion arose. However HCL could not really comment.
It said that emails of an employee who was still at the company were mysteriously deleted.
And, as Patrick Wintour and Dan Sabbagh report, some have seized on the answers:
Labour MP Chris Bryant, an active campaigner against phone hacking, said: "All these dubious deletions prove yet again [that] the Metropolitan Police [should have] secured the whole system back in 2006. It certainly looks as if...News International were deliberately thwarting their investigation."
But Christina Warren digs in: [You're fired -Ed.]
We’ve already seen so many ethical lapses in the phone hacking scandal, it’s easy to immediately look at any...email deletion...with suspicion. That’s certainly how some of the British MP’s see the situation.
News International said that “[it] keeps backups...and, in close co-operation with the (police’s) Operation Weeting team, has been working to restore these backups.”
Today's Skateboarding Duck...
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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. His writing has previously won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.