Press exposes two Leveson lawyers' affair

Claims it could have affected report are denied

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The Independent Online

He was the crusader on behalf of the phone-hacking victims, she was the lawyer who became known as the “woman on the left” after appearing to make eyes at Hugh Grant while he gave evidence. Now the revelations that two lawyers at the centre of the Leveson Inquiry became romantically entangled are threatening to overshadow their work.

Critics said that the liaison between David Sherborne QC and Carine Patry Hoskins, who jetted off to a Greek island together, created a “perception of wrongdoing” in the public’s mind. But a source who knows both of them said the press interest in the “private matter” was indicative of the behaviour which saw the inquiry set up in the first place.

“It is private. There is a wonderful irony in the papers trying to do the type of thing the inquiry said they should not be doing in the first place,” they said.

It emerged at the weekend that Ms Patry Hoskins, 40, and Mr Sherborne, 44, holidayed on the island of Santorini to “discuss the possibility of a future relationship” days after the conclusion of the inquiry’s evidence stage. Mr Sherborne’s direct involvement in the inquiry ended on 24 July and Ms Patry Hoskins’ was by then limited to collecting facts relevant to the final report. Their relationship did not begin until November last year.

Nevertheless, there have been accusations that a burgeoning relationship with someone employed to represent witnesses could have affected Ms Patry Hoskins’ impartiality while she was drawing up elements of the Leveson report.

Former News of the World executive editor Neil Wallis said: “There are people who are looking at the idea that these two people went off on holiday together and look askance at the idea that there was no relationship.

“I do not doubt they did nothing wrong, but what you cannot get away from is that, at that time, this lady was centrally involved in the Inquiry and this gentleman was the prime mover in the ‘prosecution’, as it were.”

The lawyer who represented the family of Milly Dowler, Mark Lewis, called the reports “muckraking”. Hacked Off executive director Brian Cathcart argued that, far from being biased against the industry, the final report was “actually very generous to the press”.