'I want my day in court,' says manager sacked by Elle Macpherson

Mary-Ellen Field says phone hacking destroyed her career. James Cusick reports

For some it will be a revenge arena. Mary-Ellen Field doesn't see it like that. Sure, she wants her day in court, but when Lord Justice Leveson begins hearing evidence soon, the former business manager of Elle "The Body" Macpherson, simply wants the lights switched back on.

In the phone-hacking wars, lawyers call Ms Field "collateral damage". Among the "core participants" who will gather at the High Court to begin the de-programming of the Establishment's love affair with the Murdoch empire, Ms Field's case holds the potential to become a large claimant against News International. Yet her phone may not have been hacked at all. The seven-figure damages her lawyer is looking for is a hybrid calculation based on five years of lost income, deteriorating health and professional ostracisation.

Anything that begins with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit and ends in the Royal Courts of Justice isn't going to be routine. Ms Field began working with Macpherson in 2003. The Killara-born model had outgrown the exposure business and was seeking credibility and wealth using her brand "The Body", which held strong trademark potential. Ms Field's background in intellectual property management had been noted by the accountancy firm Chiltern, which headhunted her. Ms Field did more than tweak Macpherson's business portfolio. Licensing deals for her lingerie collection were revamped; her trademark cut for every "Body" bra sold brought in more cash. Ms Field describes "the most fantastic two years, where everything was brilliant and we had the best time". Then Macpherson split with her partner, the financier Arki Busson, in 2005. Stories began appearing in the press about the relationship. Ms Field says she and her client were worried. "I put people on tight confidentiality agreements, because we just couldn't find out where the stories were coming from," she says. One story mentioned Busson might push for custody of the couple's kids. "The only people who had discussed this possibility were the two of us," Ms Field says. "We had talked about what Arki might do in calls between us."

A security firm was then called in to sweep their offices and homes for bugs. If there were tensions, Ms Field hadn't noticed. Macpherson described her adviser to a magazine as "the nuts and bolts of the business". Things appeared good. "Elle had asked me to contact Suzy Menkes, the high-profile fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune," Ms Field says.

Then Ms Field was told by Macpherson's lawyer that on no account was she to meet Menkes. Ms Field called her client. "She said to me, 'I don't want you talking to the media'," Ms Field says.

The relationship was in freefall. Ms Field says Macpherson blamed her for leaking stories to the press.

When Macpherson fired her, Ms Field was 57. Her employers, Chiltern, sacked her in March 2006. But in February, police investigating the hacking of royal phones told Macpherson they suspected she was a victim of the dark arts that were to lead to the jailing of Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman – and the Leveson Inquiry. Macpherson opted for silence, Ms Field says. "I got sick and eventually I was diagnosed as suffering from vasovagal syncope, a neurocardiogenic condition. I needed surgery and had a pacemaker fitted." Mulcaire and Goodman were jailed in January 2007. "The judge, Mr Justice Gos, read out a list of those who were victims," Ms Field says. "Max Clifford, Gordon Taylor, Elle Macpherson. He said others must be involved. I wrote to police telling them I was involved. They never wrote back."

In August last year, Ms Field's pen was busy again. "I'm chair of my local Conservative Association," she says. "I pushed within the party for someone to get the finger out. I knew the appointment of Andy Coulson was a huge error. I was so pissed off. I wrote to David Cameron asking him why Coulson had rights to a second chance but I didn't."

Ms Field's lawyer, Mark Lewis, notes that Max Clifford got £1m from News International; Gordon Taylor got £700,000. Simon Hughes and Sky Andrews are still suing. "Yet Elle Macpherson is still saying after five years that bygones should be bygones," he says.

"She is silent on just what her compensation has been from News International. Now we may learn from Leveson just what 'letting bygones be bygones' actually means."

Macpherson's spokesman declined to comment on Ms Field and Mr Lewis's version of events, with one exception: "Elle has not at any time sought or received any settlement, in any form, from News International (or any other related company, entity or individual). Nor are there any claims, discussions or other activities outstanding in relation to the issue."

Ms Field expects NI to make one final push to buy her off. "It won't work. I want my day in court. I don't want Leveson to regulate the press. I don't want a Libya or a Syria in Britain. But there was a fear driven by Rupert Murdoch. People were frightened by the dirt he had on them."

She wants jail for those who broke the law. "But you need the media, the Fourth Estate, to do its job," she says. "You need the police and the judiciary to do the same. You need politicians to do what they're elected to do. If you don't get this right you end up with a fragile democracy – and maybe because of Rupert Murdoch we haven't had democracy in this country for a long time."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year