Despite Parliament’s summer recess, the Home Affairs Select Committee continues to pursue its investigation into phone hacking – writing to a number of key participants seeking further information. The Committee has today published its recent correspondence with solicitors Lord Goldsmith the former Attorney General, Lord Macdonald, the former DPP and solicitors Harbottle & Lewis.
Lord Goldsmith has answered questions about the important CPS Memorandum dated 30 May 2006. Nick Davies of the Guardian has also written about the memorandum here and here. His original article about this matter was published on 4 April 2010. The note from Lord Goldsmith is discussed in an article in today’s Independent. It suggested that there were a “vast array” of News of the World phone-hacking victims.
Lord Goldsmith’s letter to the Home Affairs Select Committee deals with the memorandum in the following terms
“You ask whether I … 2. Was sent a memorandum on 30 May 2006 from the Metropolitan Police Service in which they stated there was a vast array of information pointing to individuals who have been hacked and that may necessitate a wider investigation.
Answer: The passage quoted is an extract from a memorandum prepared by a CPS lawyer to brief the DPP and me. It was not from the MPS. The purpose of the memorandum was to brief the Director and me on the Goodman and Mulcaire cases specifically. I believe that the purpose of the comment was to provide background information so that the Director and I were aware that the particular cases referred to were not isolated examples. It was not a request for advice or views on whether further investigations should be carried out”.
News International have now indicated that they will permit Harbottle & Lewis to respond to questions from the Committee. Without such permission, as Harbottle & Lewis point out in their letter to the Committee, “confidential documents supplied by a client to his solicitor for the purpose of taking legal advice cannot be disclosed by the solicitor to third parties“. The Committee has now written to Harbottle & Lewis in the following terms:
“I am aware that Harbottle and Lewis have now been given permission by News International to talk to the Home Affairs Select Committee about the remit in the 2007 investigation of phone hacking at the News of the World.
The Committee would be grateful if you could now provide information on the following questions:
• what was the exact remit given to Harbottle and Lewis when it was instructed by News International in 2007;
• the contents of emails and information held in the file you mentioned in your letter;
• what advice was provided from Harbottle and Lewis to News International in 2007 following examination of the emails and information;
• why the evidence you had in the 2007 that was later examined by Lord MacDonald in 2011 was not acted upon sooner?”