Tom Crone: News of the World lawyer faces investigation by Bar

Mr Crone could face being disbarred by the Bar Standards Board

Tom Crone, the lawyer responsible for the legal affairs of the News of the World during the height of the phone-hacking scandal, is being investigated by the barristers’ regulator.

Mr Crone faces being disbarred by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) if it finds the way he handled the paper’s legal business brought his profession into disrepute.

After the lengthy criminal trial, at which the former editor of the NOTW, Andy Coulson, was jailed, complaints about Mr Crone’s professional conduct were lodged with the BSB.

No action was taken by the board while it awaited a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service on whether formal charges would be brought against Mr Crone.

During the trial it was revealed that the personal safe of Mr Crone at News International’s London offices contained transcripts of the voicemails of  David Blunkett, the former home secretary.

During the trial at the Old Bailey, Coulson testified that he had told Mr Crone about the hacking of Mr Blunkett’s messages, which took place in 2004.

In October last year, almost two years after he was arrested in connection with various allegations connecting to conspiracy to intercept communications, the CPS announced that Mr Crone would not face charges as there was “insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction”.

Mr Crone, who had been News International’s senior lawyer for almost 20 years, left the Murdoch company in late 2011. It is understood he was given a pay-off of about £300,000.

James Murdoch, the former boss of the UK division of his father global’s media empire, told a parliamentary select committee in July 2011 that Mr Crone was one of two executives who he alleged had “misled him” about substantial payments made to individuals to prevent the scale of phone hacking inside the NOTW becoming public.

Despite the CPS decision, pressure on the bar regulator to investigate Mr Crone continued.

The Independent on Sunday contacted Mr Crone’s lawyer, and made efforts to contact Mr Crone personally. His lawyer said he could not comment.