News International Sean Dempsey/PA

News International discussed deleting emails with HCL Technologies

Credit: Sean Dempsey/PA
The firm contracted by News International to manage its IT systems discussed email deletions with the publisher nine times in the past 15 months, according to a letter from its solicitors to the home affairs committee.

However, the company added it was aware of "nothing which appeared abnormal, untoward or inconsistent with its contractual role".

The letter followed a request from the select committee, which is conducting an inquiry into phone hacking, for more details about the work HCL Technologies carried out for News International.

In its response, published yesterday (1 August) by the committee, HCL sought to clarify that it does not store News International data, and that any suggestion it deleted material held on behalf of the publisher "is therefore utterly without foundation".

"HCL manages the IT systems at News International including servers, applications, databases, email systems, networks etc.

"I emphasise the word 'systems' as HCL manages these systems but all the data on these 'systems' is owned by, stored by and used by News International and its IT users. HCL's role primarily is in making sure the 'systems' run efficiently and without problems."

In its letter, the firm confirmed that it had identified nine instances of discussion on email deletions, occurring between April 2010 and July 2011.

This included a request for deletion of email boxes no longer in use, which were ultimately not deleted, as well as a request for deletion of messages stuck in an outbox, duplicate emails and public folders "no longer needed".

HCL said it remains under contract with News International, which contains a confidentiality clause and that it is currently seeking a waiver from News International.

In a statement News International said it was "actively" working with Operation Weeting officers with regards to email data and other computer information.

"NI keeps backups of its core systems and, in close cooperation with the Operation Weeting team, has been working to restore these backups," a spokesman added.

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