Hacking scandal: House panel to probe HCL

London, Aug 3: Surprised by the contents of Indian IT major HCL Technologies’ response to questions posed by the Home Affairs Committee, chairman Keith Vaz today said the company will be probed further on the issue of deletion of emails of Rupert Murdoch-owned News International.

HCL’s response of August 1 insisted that it did not store News International’s emails and thus could not be responsible for their deletions, but went on to cite nine instances of email deletions between April 2010 and July 2011.

Vaz told PTI: “I am most surprised by the contents of the letter from HCL. The fact that so many emails have been deleted at the request of News International raises a number of further questions which we will continue to probe the company about”.

The deletion of News International emails is not directly linked to the phone-hacking investigation, but relates to the deletion of emails mentioned in the trial of Scottish leader Tom Sheridan, who had successfully sued the now defunct News of the World tabloid.

The emails were alleged to have been lost in HCL’s facilities in India, but were later found in a warehouse in London.

An HCL spokeswoman said: “HCL continues to co-operate with the Metropolitan Police and the Home Affairs Select Committee in their investigations and has responded to all requests for information and clarification received to date”.

In the August 1 letter to the committee, HCL said it was responsible for News International’s ”systems”, and company emails and data were held on its own server. 

The email archives, it said, were managed by another vendor. The letter detailed ”nine instances of discussion on email deletions” between April 2010 and July 2011, involving thousands of emails.

It said: “Our services under the contract with News International relate principally to dealing with the live email system.

Such services do not require or provide for the storing of any email data by HCL, and accordingly, HCL does not hold and has not stored any such emails in any of its facilities in the world.

“The emails are all stored on News International’s owned systems within the UK”.

The HCL response, delivered through its solicitor Stuart Benson, said that the issue of email deletions had arisen ”from time to time”, but added that HCL was not aware of anything that appeared “abnormal, untoward or inconsistent with its contractual role”.

The letter went on to say: “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 and that is a matter on which my client cannot comment and something which you will no doubt explore direct with News International”.

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