Wednesday 21 February 2018

Murdoch group tried to destroy me -- lawyer for phone-hacking victims

Sam Marsden in London

News International tried to destroy the life of the lawyer acting for phone-hacking victims, he told an inquiry into press standards yesterday.

Mark Lewis, whose clients include the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, told the Leveson Inquiry that the company commissioned surveillance on him and his family.

The inquiry also heard an internal dossier about him was compiled by Rupert Murdoch's News International, which published the now-defunct 'News of the World'.

"News International sought to destroy my life, and very nearly succeeded," he said. Mr Lewis said he was shown a video of his ex-wife and teenage daughter by detectives at a London police station on November 4, 2011.

"That was truly horrific, that my daughter was videoed, was followed by a detective with a camera -- I mean, just followed. That shouldn't happen to anybody's child."

The inquiry heard a report into his private life was also commissioned by Julian Pike, a partner with law firm Farrer and Co, on the instruction of News International lawyer Tom Crone.

David Barr, counsel to the inquiry, said to Mr Lewis: "It would appear that what we have is a document suggesting that personal details which have been dug up are to be used against you and your fellow solicitors."

After Mr Lewis's evidence Rhodri Davies, counsel for News International, said: "Physical and video surveillance was commissioned by the 'News of the World' and News International apologises to Mr Lewis and his family for that."


He said they were not aware of any evidence that Mr Lewis's phone had been hacked.

Today the inquiry also heard the former deputy head of the UK's data protection authority refused to pursue newspapers over the illegal purchase of confidential information because they were "too big".

Alec Owens, the Information Commissioner's Office senior investigating officer from 1999 until 2005, said he urged Francis Aldhouse and then-information commissioner Richard Thomas to go after the papers.

And in his evidence, Tony Blair's former communications director Alastair Campbell said he wrongly accused Cherie Blair's lifestyle consultant of tipping off newspapers about the movements of the former prime minister's wife.

He said he had apologised to Carole Caplin, who has been told by police that her mobile phone was hacked by the 'News of the World'.

Irish Independent

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