Law firm given right of reply over 'failure' to expose bribery
A law firm blamed by Rupert Murdoch for failing to raise the alarm over evidence of police bribes at News International was last night given the go-ahead to put its side of events to police and MPs.
Harbottle & Lewis, who also represent the Queen, was said to be furious at the allegations of wrongdoing made against it by the Murdochs but unable to explain why it did not hand over files to the police due to client-lawyer confidentiality.
News Corp's management and standards committee announced after 7pm yesterday, on a day when Parliament went into recess, that its British arm, News International, had given the law firm permission to answer questions from Scotland Yard and parliamentary committees.
"News International has today authorised the law firm Harbottle & Lewis to answer questions from the Metropolitan Police Service and parliamentary select committees in respect of what they were asked to do." Earlier in the day Harbottle had said News International's refusal to release it from professional duties of confidentiality effectively prevented it from responding to "any inaccurate statements or contentions".
News International also announced it had halted the payment of legal fees to the disgraced private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. It is believed to have been paying the fees since he was first arrested in 2006.
Further light on why News International failed to produce evidence of the extent of hacking is expected to be provided by the company's former director of legal affairs, Jon Chapman, who was accused by News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch of sitting on a report into hacking prepared by Harbottle & Lewis. Addressing MPs on Tuesday, he said: "Mr Chapman, who was in charge of this, has left us. He had that report for a number of years." Mr Chapman, who left NI this month, is said to be preparing a letter answering the allegations for the Commons committee on Culture, Media and Sport.
The publicist Max Clifford revealed he has been talking to the police for several months in relation to its Operation Weeting inquiry into hacking and that he would be happy to co-operate with the Serious Fraud Office if it opens an investigation into News International.
Richard Alderman, the director of the SFO, is considering whether there are grounds for an investigation into potential breaches of company law by the media firm after it admitted making payments to Mr Clifford and Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association. "The payment of large sums in order to prevent details of criminal activity by employees becoming public is a gross misuse of shareholders' money," wrote Tom Watson, the Labour MP, to Mr Alderman, alleging that the payments had been made in order to suppress further investigation of the scale of phone-hacking.
Mr Clifford described his payment as "very simple". He said: "When I found out what happened to me, I got all the information and eventually they caved in and apologised." The £1m settlement was negotiated "over lunch" with News International's chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, who resigned last week. "That fee was based on what I would have made from them in the four years I was not dealing with them," Mr Clifford said.
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 2 Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn
- 3 Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014: In defence of Mesut Ozil - the Arsenal midfielder works magic in the shadows
- 4 BBC’s new Game of Thrones slayer 'The Last Kingdom' relies on Saxon appeal, creators say
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Jennifer Lawrence face palms Emma Watson at Christian Dior show in Paris
Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn
Pamplona Running of the Bulls 2014: Briton critically injured in San Fermin festival
Israel's deadliest Gaza air strikes yet kill five children from same family as Palestinian rocket barrage continues
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
British jihadist calls for 'flag of Islam' over Downing Street and Buckingham Palace
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
£30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...
£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...
£25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...
£65000 - £75000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Progressive ...