Examination of Witness (Question Numbers
2 SEPTEMBER 2009
Q2080 Paul Farrelly: There were several
Mr Lewis: That was the position.
We started a claim based on an inference that Glenn Mulcaire got
this information. That has been proven. Glenn Mulcaire's counsel
had given evidence in the criminal case that he only acted for
News International, that he would not have been getting information
for the likes of Clive Goodman because Gordon Taylor is not King
Q2081 Paul Farrelly: When did the
Mr Lewis: Very shortly after.
We sent some letters pretty soon after the prosecution to say,
"Please provide us with lots of money and not to repeat these
things; you have been illegally hacking his phone."
Q2082 Paul Farrelly: When was the
Mr Lewis: About a year ago, I
Q2083 Paul Farrelly: A year ago as
Mr Lewis: It took a little while
to get to that stage. The first stage in the case was News International
saying that this was an open record. So at that stage all the
documents which cannot be referred to now because the files are
closed were in an open court file, so the claim and original defence
which was put in said, "This never happened." So it
was there and was a public document at that stage.
Q2084 Paul Farrelly: You mentioned
Mr Crone. Mr Crone came to us as part of a number of people from
News International, and we were told they had not been able to
correct the record, either with us or with the Press Complaints
Commission, because of the confidentiality clauses which were
in the settlement. Mr Crone was asked by the Chairman on what
basis was it decided to keep the proceedings secret, was it at
Gordon Taylor's request, and Mr Crone said, "Actually I think
he mentioned it first." The Chairman said, "He mentioned
it first?" Mr Crone said, "It was raised by him before
it was raised by us but we fell in with it." Have we been
given accurate evidence?
Mr Lewis: The short answer would
be no. The longer answer would be, and I have seen the transcript
of that evidence, the position is that there are two different
aspects to keeping something quiet. So the claim initially that
was made sought an injunction to stop the repetition of information
which was obtained illegally, so in that sense the existence of
the information which was the subject matter of the story effectively
which was the underlying aspect of the case. It was Gordon Taylor's
suggestion, or my suggestion on behalf of Gordon Taylor, that
we ask that that be kept secret. It was right and proper that
that should be done, because sometimes people say, "There's
no smoke without fire" and in this case there was no smoke
without fire, but to stop that would be the usual libel type of
practice to stop a story getting out. That is very different from
stopping the existence of a settlement getting out, and that is
a secondary point. That was not suggested by Gordon Taylor or
by me on behalf of Gordon Taylor. That is not waiving any privilege
or anything, that was the position that was put forward as part
of the settlement offer.
Q2085 Paul Farrelly: By News International?
Mr Lewis: By News International
or by their lawyers.
Q2086 Paul Farrelly: On what sort
of grounds might that usually be the case, in your experience?
Mr Lewis: It would be hard for
me to answer that question, what was in their mind, but I think
the inference might be that it was part of the settlement offer.
Q2087 Paul Farrelly: It would have
been embarrassing had that been disclosed?
Mr Lewis: I suspect it might have
been embarrassing, it might have led other people to think, "Hang
on a minute, there was a story about me. I wonder how they got
Q2088 Paul Farrelly: On the rounds
through your involvement in this case, are you aware of any other
similar sort of actions which have been settled in this way by
News International, in relation to this sort of activity?
Mr Lewis: I do not think it had
ever happened before. I think people had always looked at what
the story said and, apart from a lawyer's point of viewand
this is my jobif the story was true but infringed privacy,
then it would be a privacy action; if the story was not true then
there would be a libel action. I do not think anybody had ever
stepped back and said, "How did the newspaper get the story
in the first place?" What can be seen from some of these
casesI think you referred to the "Neville" email,
et ceteraat around that time there was a story which
had been drafted which suggested the story had almost been laundered
afterwards, that once the story had been got by the newspapers
it could be legitimised afterwards by getting the relevant quotes
Q2089 Paul Farrelly: You said that
once you were successful in the court order requiring the evidence
from the police, and I assume by extension from the Information
Commissioner, that the situation changed in terms of readiness
to settle and admit. I want to try and get to the bottom of the
Chairman's question. In the evidence you have been able to get,
was there any inference or reasonable suspicion that Mr Mulcaire
was providing these intercepts in the Taylor case, or on the other
counts to the extent you have some information about those, to
other journalists within News International?
Mr Lewis: Other than Mr Goodman?
Q2090 Paul Farrelly: Yes.
Mr Lewis: Quite obviously they
would have been given to journalists other than Mr Goodman. At
the time, to put it into context, there had been stories about
people at the FA, not the PFA which Mr Taylor is from, having
been involved in sexual misconduct or whatever. At the time there
had been stories about Sven-Goran Eriksson with somebody called
Faria Alam, and then there was a story about somebody at the FA
with Faria Alam as well I understand. If I have that wrong, I
am sorry, Ms Alam. This was supposed to be the third story in
the sequence of "More Scandal at the FA", but the story
had been got by people hacking phones rather than actually doing
proper journalism, so they had not bothered to check facts and
it would have come out that actually it was a different organisation,
different people and actually did not fit in anyway.
Q2091 Chairman: Are you saying you
have seen specific documentary evidence to suggest those phones
Mr Lewis: No, I am sorry, I am
not suggesting that. It is just the way things were put together.
I cannot stray on to documents I might have seen, but the answer
Q2092 Chairman: Have you seen any
documents which came from anybody other than Clive Goodman?
Mr Lewis: Anybody other than Clive
Goodman? I have seen a "Neville" document.
Chairman: You have seen the "Neville"
Q2093 Paul Farrelly: You also asked
for the Motorman files, can I ask why you did that and how helpful
were they to you in respect of the particular grounds on which
you brought the case for Mr Taylor, or generally to show a pattern
Mr Lewis: Generally to show a
pattern of behaviour. Naturally, the nature of the case as it
started was inferential, there had to be inferences which were
drawn. This is the difference between a criminal case and a civil
case. In a civil case one was able to say to the judge, "Look,
this is the inference. Mr Goodman could not be getting information
because it would not make sense for a royal correspondent to be
getting information about somebody involved in the world of football,
for example." So to build up the inference, it was to say,
"Look, here is an organisation, these are all the things
it does wrongly in order to get stories", and that helps
to weigh up the evidential proof to suggest that this is not a
one-off as it was described in the criminal case.
Q2094 Paul Farrelly: They refused
to give us the figures in their response but there were payments
made to Clive Goodman and Mulcaire after their convictions. Even
though Goodman was dismissed and his internal appeal failed, they
maintained it was still a compromise agreement and that he had
employment rights and, likewise Mr Mulcaire, even though the payments
to him and the contract, it was said in court, stopped before
that case was brought. From your investigations, do you have any
details or any information about the nature and the conditions
behind those payments to Mr Goodman and Mr Mulcaire?
Mr Lewis: The very short answer
is no, I do not. On two issues, if it is helpful, in respect of
employment law, which is not particularly my field, one could
say that if somebody has committed misconduct, as in the case
of Mr Goodman being sent to prison, that misconduct would be sufficient
to end his contract of employment. It is very difficult to see
how somebody would be compensated for that as a loss of office,
so presumably there would be some other reason for paying him,
if he has been paid.
Q2095 Paul Farrelly: To keep quiet?
Mr Lewis: That might be so.
Q2096 Paul Farrelly: I have asked
this question of the police: the News of the World editorial
of 12 July, after the Guardian's first revelations largely on
the basis of the settlement of Gordon Taylor, said, "So let
us be clear, neither the police nor our own internal investigation
has found any evidence to support allegations that News of
the World journalists have accessed the voicemails of any
individuals." The editorial goes on to say, "Nor instructed
private investigators or other third parties to access voicemails
of any individual." From your involvement in the Taylor case,
would you say that was a truthful editorial or not?
Mr Lewis: Gosh! Believing what
they say in the News of the World is an alien concept.
I cannot see they would pay out a lot of money to anybody if they
really believed that themselves; I certainly do not believe it.
Q2097 Alan Keen: Just to clarify,
you mentioned the names of two people at the FA and a third person,
who I obviously know the name of as well. You said you have not
seen any evidence, why did you mention them? Did it happen at
the same time as the Gordon Taylor case?
Mr Lewis: It sort of happened
at the same time, and also I saw a draft of an article that said,
"More sexual mayhem ... " or such, " ... at the
FA" rather than the PFA, because the person who had written
the article had thought it was the next one in the stage of the
stories but it was a complete red herring.
Q2098 Alan Keen: It was just a red
Mr Lewis: A complete red herring.
Q2099 Alan Keen: You had no evidence?
Mr Lewis: No, not at all.