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News Corp. Will ‘Vigorously Contest’ Thurlbeck Termination Suit

News Corp.’s U.K. publishing unit, which ran the News of the World tabloid at the center of a phone-hacking scandal in Britain, plans to fight termination claims by a former employee.

Neville Thurlbeck, the former chief reporter of the tabloid, has said he was unfairly dismissed from News International in a case brought to an employment tribunal, the Guardian newspaper reported today, without saying how it got the information.

The company will “vigorously contest this case” a News International spokeswoman said. The tribunal will have a preliminary hearing in London on Friday. Police arrested Thurlbeck in April.

The former chief reporter of the News of the World, which was shut down in July, has played a key role in the controversy about what management at News Corp. knew about the scope of phone hacking in the newsroom. His name appeared in an e-mail labeled “for Neville” that contained the transcripts of hacked voicemails and was shown to managers as evidence that reporters illegally accessed voicemails of celebrities and politicians.

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