LONDON - News International asked to delete a large number of emails from its system on nine different occasions in the past 15 months, a technology firm told British lawmakers probing phone hacking allegations on Monday.
India-based HCL Technologies said that it noticed nothing "abnormal or untoward" about the requests by News International, the British newspaper arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. embroiled in a widening phone hacking scandal.
The requests, which were made between April 2010 and July, included wiping more than 200,000 delivery failure messages, HCL told a parliamentary committee. They also included pruning old emails from the archives to stop the system crashing, and deleting duplicate emails after users were moved to a new version of software.
HCL stressed that although it managed News International's computer systems, it did not store any emails or other data for the company.
"It is, of course, a matter entirely for News International, the police and your committee as to whether there was any other agenda or subtext when issues of deletion arose," HCL's lawyer, Stuart Benson, said in a letter to the lawmakers.
Internal emails at the publisher's now-defunct News of the World tabloid have come under close scrutiny, as lawmakers and police try to get to the bottom of claims that journalists there hacked into the phones of celebrities, politicians and murder victims. There were also allegations that reporters at the tabloid paid police for information.
The scandal forced Murdoch to close the tabloid and brought him and his son to London to be grilled before lawmakers.