Clash Over Phone Hacking Article Preceded Exit of Washington Post Editor

Will Lewis, the chief executive of The Washington Post, objected to coverage of a legal development involving him in a phone hacking case.

Weeks before the embattled executive editor of The Washington Post abruptly resigned on Sunday, her relationship with the company’s chief executive became increasingly tense.

In mid-May, the two clashed over whether to publish an article about a British hacking scandal with some ties to The Post’s chief executive, Will Lewis, according to two people with knowledge of their interactions.

Sally Buzbee, the editor, informed Mr. Lewis that the newsroom planned to cover a judge’s scheduled ruling in a long-running British legal case brought by Prince Harry and others against some of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids, the people said.

As part of the ruling, the judge was expected to say whether the plaintiffs could add Mr. Lewis’s name to a list of executives who they argued were involved in a plan to conceal evidence of hacking at the newspapers. Mr. Lewis told Ms. Buzbee the case involving him did not merit coverage, the people said.

When Ms. Buzbee said The Post would publish an article anyway, he said her decision represented a lapse in judgment and abruptly ended the conversation.

The interaction rattled Ms. Buzbee, who then consulted with confidants outside The Post about how she should handle the situation. When the judge ruled several days later, on May 21, that Mr. Lewis could be added to the case, The Post published an article about the decision.

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