The Leveson Inquiry…Witnesses Week 4 (Tuesday)

Monday was a day for News Of The World journalists. Tuesday was a day for the lawyers. None really looked comfortable in the witness box.

Lawrence Abramson of Harbottle & Lewis was asked by News International (Murdoch “empire”) to look into 2,500 emails to establish whether there was a culture of unethical material which went beyond the “rogue reporter” line. Abramson had reported there was nothing in the emails to substantiate this. Yet he says that most of the work was actually conducted by juniors. He also indicates that some emails were incomplete and he merely supervised his team and might have drawn a different conclusion if he had seen items overlooked by his team. His report to Murdoch was a clean bill of health.

Julian Pike from Farrar & Co negotiated the Gordon Taylor settlement with Mark Lewis. This seems to be first time that there is genuine concern that the phone hacking culture goes beyond Clive Goodman, the “rogue reporter”….but at this stage it was not believed to be rife….but concerning enough to go for a quick and costly settlement in the Taylor case. It was Pike who suggested that solicitors (Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris) be put under surveillance but had no idea that this would mean a private detective. He assumed journalists would be used. Pike believed that Lewis and Harris were sharing information and leaking to The Guardian. He believes that the surveillance was legitimate but he could not condone spying on their families.

Perhaps the star witness of the day is Tom Crone, former legal affairs manager at News International. His evidence was not completed and for sake of continuity will be included in next “blog”.

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