Murdoch empire will still pay disgraced detective's damages

 

News International has not cut its financial ties with Glenn Mulcaire despite the insistence by Rupert Murdoch's media empire that it would do so by no longer paying the legal fees of the disgraced private detective.

According to a previously protected High Court document obtained by The Independent, the company is still on course to pay any damages awarded against Mr Mulcaire in dozens of civil phone hacking claims.

Mr Murdoch's son James told Parliament in July that he was "surprised" to learn his company was still paying Mulcaire's legal bill and that the arrangement would be terminated with "immediate effect".

News International had previously refused to answer questions about who was paying Mr Mulcaire's lawyers bill. The private investigator lodged a lawsuit last month against the company, claiming that its decision to stop paying his legal fees, which had reached nearly £250,000, breached a long-standing contract.

The claim document, lodged in the Chancery Division of the High Court, details the close-knit legal relationship that existed between Mr Mulcaire's legal team and the Murdoch UK media company.

Until Mr Murdoch ended the legal fees deal, Mr Mulcaire was still co-operating with the News of the World's controlling company, News Group Newspapers (NGN), and had been giving them "access to confidential and privileged information to which it would not otherwise have had access", according to the claim. He was also allowing NGN to prescribe the ways in which he "conducted the telephone interception litigation", and to choose the barrister to represent him.

News International's agreement with Mr Mulcaire includes his appeal against a High Court ruling that directed him to answer a list of questions drawn up by hacking victims who are suing NOTW.

The court document lodged on 17 August by Mr Mulcaire's lawyer, Sarah Webb, states that NGN had no right to end the legal fees arrangement with her client because he had performed everything NGN had asked him to do. The document describes letters from NGN's solicitors to Mr Mulcaire denying that it had agreed to pay his legal costs.

The claim alleges that in a letter dated 11 August NGN said it would pay Mr Mulcaire's costs "up to the date that our client made its position clear". This refers to James Murdoch's promise to MPs on 20 July that NI would terminate the deal.

But it goes on to state that the letter "did not to purport to withdraw the indemnity in respect of damages" – meaning that a previously unacknowledged undertaking by News International to pay any cash settlements against Mr Mulcaire remains in place.

Dozens of civil damages claims have now been filed against the owners of the defunct Sunday tabloid, naming both NGN and Mr Mulcaire as co-defendants. New International has signalled its intention to settle claims wherever it feels they are justified and has already paid £100,000 to the actress Sienna Miller. Settlements have also been reached with the football pundit Andy Gray and the television actress Leslie Ash and her family.

News International has set aside a fund of at least £20m to settle the damages claims against it.

Mr Mulcaire was jailed for six months in 2007 after he admitted hacking into the voicemails of royal aides and celebrities including the supermodel Elle Macpherson and the Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes. But he continues to be at the centre of the scandal as Scotland Yard detectives go through records seized from his home detailing further alleged voicemail interception.

He recently issued a public apology for the "hurt and upset" caused by his activities but said NOTW had placed him under "relentless pressure".





News International last night said it did not accept it had any indemnity to pay legal fees or damages for Mr Mulcaire. A spokeswoman said: “We have no agreement whatsoever with Glenn Mulcaire.”

A done deal?

* On 28 July, just after James Murdoch expressed surprise that News International was still paying Glenn Muclaire's legal bills, NI's solicitors wrote to the former News of the World private investigator ending the deal. Another letter dated 11 August denied that NI had agreed to pay Mr Mulcaire's legal costs and stated it was no longer picking up the bill. However, in the same 11 August letter the company said it would meet the costs of any legal bill incurred prior to Mr Murdoch's public termination. This could have been the point at which NI severed legal links with Mr Mulcaire. But it did not. Instead, there was no mention it would not pick up the potentially substantial bill for the damages Mr Mulcaire could face in phone-hacking civil actions as a co-defendant with News Group Newspapers.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
Sport
SPORT
News
people
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Biggins as Mrs Smee in Peter Pan
theatreHow do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick