We like to keep readers up to date with the developments in the phone hacking saga although events continue to move very quickly. On Tuesday 7 September 2011 we had the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee taking evidence from former News of the World executives (see our post here).
On the same day there was the first hearing of the Leveson Inquiry. Lord Justice Leveson is expected to deliver a ruling shortly on who should be a “core participant” in the Inquiry. The full transcript of the Inquiry hearing is now available on the Inquiry’s website. There is also a transcript of the Culture and Media Sport hearing.
Further information has also emerged from the other Select Committee investigating phone hacking – Home Affairs. On 7 September 2011 the Committee released a further letter from HCL, the technology company used by News International to store archived emails concerning deletions of messages on 4 occasions. This was in addition to the 9 occasions identified in the letter of 1 August 2011. This was the subject of a number of newspaper reports (for example, the Guardian).
On 7 September 2011, the Operation Weeting officers made arrest number 16, a 35-year-old man arrested yesterday is reported to be the “Times” deputy sports editor and former “Evening Standard” journalist Raoul Simons.
In addition to the arrests of journalists (and an Operation Weeting officer) the police have interviewed (but not arrested) a journalist. The Guardian journalist Amelia Hill who has written extensively about phone hacking issues, was questioned by the police under caution. This was, perhaps unsurprisingly, condemned by the NUJ. The Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP appeared to take a similar view saying that although he could not comment on the specific case:
“There is an important difference between off-the-record briefing and the payment of money by or to the police in return for information. “Journalists must operate within the law, but, as the prime minister told the [parliamentary] liaison committee, as we go through this entire process we must be careful not to overreact in a way that would undermine the foundations of a free society.“
Faced with attacks from all sides it is unsurprising that News International has sought extensive legal assistance. The phone hacking litigation has been conducted by Farrer & Co, Olswang LLP were brought in to advise News International and Linklaters are acting for the “Management and Standards Committee”. Reuters now reports that lawyers from a fourth law firm, Allen & Overy, have been acting as News International’s in-house counsel since the departures of their in-house lawyers earlier this summer. There are a host of other lawyers acting for various former News International employees including DLA Piper for Andy Coulson, Kingsley Napley for Rebekah Brooks and Simons Muirhead and Burton for Stuart Kuttner.
And finally, we draw attention to a number of recent pieces by Roy Greenslade on the story – in the “Evening Standard” under the headline “Still so vital to get whole truth about phone hacking” and on his blog, “Why phone hacking is a story that deserves big coverage” and “A black eye, Murdoch must be joking …“