A former senior executive at the News Of The World (NOTW) has said he was told to mislead the McCanns' spokesman about the newspaper's plans to publish Kate McCann's diary.
Ian Edmondson told the Leveson inquiry that former editor Colin Myler told him to have a "woolly" conversation with Clarence Mitchell about plans to print the diary - to cover up what the newspaper was planning to do.
Mrs McCann previously told the inquiry she felt "violated" and like "climbing into a hole and not coming out" when the intensely private journal appeared in the now-defunct paper in September 2008.
Mr Myler has said he would never have published the diary - obtained from a Portuguese journalist - if he had realised she was not aware of what the paper was planning to do.
He said Mr Edmondson - a former head of news at the NOTW - told him he had cleared the story with Clarence Mitchell.
The NOTW's ex-legal manager Tom Crone has also told the inquiry he understood a representative of the McCanns gave the tabloid permission to publish the diary.
But the inquiry has heard that a transcript of a phone call between Mr Edmondson and Mr Mitchell about the story the paper was planning was "most clearly ambiguous", and the spokesman has denied Mr Edmondson ever told him what the paper was really planning.
Mr Edmondson explained to the inquiry that he had not made it clear, on the express instructions of Mr Myler.
"Tom (Crone) gave his legal view which I am told I am not allowed to repeat but which dismayed, shall I say, Mr Myler," he said.
"So he decided to ask me to make a call to Mr Mitchell, not make it clear what we had, telling him in general terms, basically make it woolly.
"I think someone previously used the word ambiguous, that is absolutely spot on what he wanted.
"He was frightened that if Clarence knew what we had, he might take action."
Mr Edmondson, who was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept voicemail messages last year and is on bail, is bringing an unfair dismissal claim against NOTW publisher News International.
Speaking after Mr Edmondson's evidence, Mr Mitchell said: "I feel entirely vindicated.
"I have always said the NOTW actively sought to deceive me over the publication of Kate's diary.
"But to hear that it was apparently done at the editor's direct behest was particularly shocking, if not surprising. Clearly Mr Myler now has some serious questions to answer.
"The distress this episode caused Kate, Gerry and myself was immense. I am glad we are getting to the truth at last."
Mr Edmondson told the inquiry there was a culture of bullying at the newspaper.
"Was Mr Myler part of the culture of bullying?" Robert Jay, counsel to the inquiry, asked.
Mr Edmondson replied: "Yes."
He told the inquiry: "Everything emanates from the editor."