London, April 26 - Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has admitted that "a clever lawyer" at the now-defunct News of the World was involved in a "cover-up" over the phone hacking scandal, the Telegraph reported Thursday.
The daily said that while speaking at the inquiry, Murdoch almost "came close to identifying individuals who were behind the cover-up".
He described one as a "clever lawyer and drinking pal of the journalists".
"There was a cover-up. I think the senior executives were... shielded from anything that was going on there, and I do blame one or two people for that, who perhaps I shouldn't name, because for all I know they may be arrested yet," Murdoch said.
"But there's no question in my mind that maybe even the editor, but certainly beyond that, someone took charge of a cover-up, which we were victim to and I regret," he said.
Asked by the counsel to the inquiry, as to where the "culture of cover-up" emanated, Murdoch said: "I think from within the News of the World."
"There were one or two very strong characters there, who I think had been there many, many, many years and were friends with the journalists, or the person I'm thinking of was a friend of the journalists, a drinking pal and a clever lawyer."
"And this person forbade people to go and report to Mrs (Rebekah) Brooks or to James (Murdoch). That is not to excuse it on our behalf at all. I take it extremely seriously that that situation had arisen," he said.
Clive Goodman, News of the World's royal editor, and private detective Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for hacking in 2007.
Murdoch said the failure to probe more deeply was an "omission" on his part, and apologised to all the "victims" including "innocent" News of the World staff who lost their jobs.