News International asked for more than 200,000 of its emails to be deleted, the IT company that manages the company’s computer systems revealed yesterday.
Indian-based HCL technologies said the media giant asked them to delete internal emails on nine separate occasions between April 2010 and July 2011.
The information was provided by letter to the parliamentary committee probing the hacking scandal after Tom Watson MP raised the company during a House of Commons debate on the affair.
"I believe that the police should ask [News International chairman] Mr James Murdoch and [former News of the World editor] Rebekah Brooks whether they know of the attempted destruction of data at the HCL storage facility in Chennai, India," he said.
Keith Vaz, the chairman of the home affairs select committee, said the letter raised many further questions the hacking scandal.
“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,” he said.
Among the requests for deletion outlined in the letter, there was a request to delete “200,000+ plus delivery failure messages”, although HCL said these were erased befor they could “initiate any action”.
A request made in April 2011 related to the deletion of a mailbox that was no longer required due to its user having left the company, but HCL says this was never carried out.
In May, 21,000 messages “which were apparently stuck in the outbox” were erased, while in July another “public folder” of emails was also deleted.
HCL stressed it “does not hold any information belonging to News International (nor has it ever held such information) relevant to the subject matter of the current investigation”.
Instead, it said, its role was to manage the IT systems at the company.
A News International spokesman told The Telegraph: “Since January, News International (NI) has been actively working with the police on Operation Weeting with regards to email data and other computer information which may be relevant to their inquiry."
“NI keeps backups of its core systems and, in close co-operation with the Operation Weeting team, has been working to restore these backups.”