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Please begin with an informative title:

This is a question. And barely a diary. The facts are these:
The NYT has just posted a story detailed the contents of the letters retained by NoTW's solicitors Harbottle and Lewis which 'led' the solicitors)to give NoTW the clear to go before Parliament and claim innocence in 2007. The letters which when shown to another lawyer in June 2011 (ok, a top former judicial official) revealed to him in about 3 to 5 minutes that there were criminal offenses described [that had not been] reported there  I have found nothing in the Guardian or Telegraph live blogs on the topic at last look--about .30-45 mins. ago, and nothing here on Brit's diary. So we may have a Made in the USA scoop.
In any case, scoop or not, for the punsters among us: the news is the Times has let the genie out of the Harbottle. And this Time, it's not a kindly one.

Money quotes follow for those firewalled by the NYT.

Two people familiar with both the contents of the e-mails and the discussions between the executives and the law firm .... indicated that both News International and the law firm were aware of the information when the reassuring letter was written, yet defined their task as only addressing the hacking issue.
SNIP
Both Harbottle & Lewis and News International took notice of the e-mails to and from Mr. Goodman containing those initial indications of payoffs in 2007, according to the two people knowledgeable about the events. News International’s chief lawyer set them aside for a second look and they were among the e-mails retained in the files of the law firm. Yet they were not turned over to the police until last month, and no hint of their existence made its way into the firm’s single-paragraph letter four years ago.
It gets jucier:
In one e-mail, from 2003, the paper’s royal reporter, Clive Goodman, complained to the top editor, Andy Coulson, about a management push to cut back on cash payments to sources, saying he needed to pay his contacts in the Scotland Yard unit that protects the royal family. In another e-mail, Mr. Goodman said that he did not want to go into detail about cash payments because everyone involved could “go to prison for this.”
snip
Mr. Goodman requested permission from Mr. Coulson to pay £1,000 for a classified Green Book directory, which had been stolen by a police officer in the protection unit. The book contains the private phone numbers of the queen, the royal family and their closest friends and associates — a potentially useful tool for hacking.
There's more about the negotiations and the weak excuses NoTW's lawyer will be offering. IANAL, British or otherwise, but it may be in the category of the child who having killed his parents begged for mercy as an orphan.
e.g. the classic definition of Chutzpah.
Mr. Chapman (NoTW's in house lawyer) is expected to testify that while he noticed the e-mails in question, he did not realize that paying the police was a criminal offense....He is expected to testify that Mr. Goodman’s e-mail mentioning prison seemed to him to be in jest.
Update: as I was  adding the traditional thanks for the rec list, my SO's CD player had (with no intent on his part)  announced
that on a foggy day in London town,
when I saw you there,
"the sun was shining everywhere" proving that "the age of miracles hadn't passed."  
That's YOU, kossians, and You, Guardian and lawyers who made it possible for the age of miracles to return
and h/t to and George and Ira Gershwin for writing the song.
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