Evidence heard in Public

Questions 1045 - 1319



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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee

on Wednesday 19 October 2011

Members present:

Mr John Whittingdale (Chair)

Dr Thérèse Coffey

Damian Collins

Philip Davies

Paul Farrelly

Louise Mensch

Mr Adrian Sanders

Jim Sheridan

Mr Tom Watson

Examination of Witnesses

Witness: Julian Pike, Partner, Farrer & Co., gave evidence.

Chair: Good morning. This morning’s sitting of the Committee is a further session as a part of our investigation into whether the Committee was previously misled in the evidence we received relating to phone hacking and the News of the World. We are focusing specifically on the Gordon Taylor settlement, which perhaps triggered our earlier re-examination in 2009. In the first part, I would like to welcome Julian Pike of Farrer & Co. Tom Watson is going to start.

Q1045 Mr Watson: Thank you, Chair. Before I begin, can I declare, if it is relevant, that I have just secured a proxy shareholding vote at the News Corp AGM on Friday? That is so that there is full public disclosure.

Mr Pike, you did not write the letter submitted by Farrer on 2 September.

Julian Pike: No, I did not.

Q1046 Mr Watson: It was written by Gavin Bacon-is that correct?

Julian Pike: That is correct, yes.

Q1047 Mr Watson: Did he speak to you before he sent it?

Julian Pike: Yes, he did.

Q1048 Mr Watson: So you were aware of the text that he would use?

Julian Pike: I agree; that is right.

Q1049 Mr Watson: Can I ask why he did not just put in the letter, "Julian Pike says that he never said you were dealing with Murdoch"?

Julian Pike: Well, that is the case-I did not say that-but in a sense, it is perhaps lawyer-speak that it is written in those terms.

Q1050 Mr Watson: So to be absolutely clear: you did not say to Mark Lewis, "You are dealing with Murdoch."

Julian Pike: No, I didn’t.

Q1051 Mr Watson: So Mark Lewis has either got the wrong recollection or he is lying. Is that correct?

Julian Pike: Correct.

Q1052 Mr Watson: Which is your view?

Julian Pike: Well, I didn’t say it, so you ask me to put myself in his shoes. I am just saying to you that I would not have said that.

Q1053 Mr Watson: Okay. Do you know what a material contract is?

Julian Pike: A material contract?

Mr Watson: Yes.

Julian Pike: Explain to me.

Q1054 Mr Watson: Well, you are not aware of what it is, as a lawyer?

Julian Pike: I am not sure what context you are talking in.

Q1055 Mr Watson: Well, let me just ask you this: are you aware of the phrase "material contract"?

Julian Pike: Not particularly, no.

Q1056 Mr Watson: So you would not know whether Gordon Taylor’s settlement was material, in that it should be put in some kind of accounts.

Julian Pike: No, I would not.

Q1057 Mr Watson: You do not think it was significant enough for shareholders to be made aware of that particular payment.

Julian Pike: That is probably something for a corporate lawyer, who would probably know that, but I do not. I would not know that would need to go into accounts.

Q1058 Mr Watson: So you do not think that it should have been put in the contingent liabilities of News Corp’s accounts.

Julian Pike: I would not know the answer to that question.

Q1059 Mr Watson: Would any of Farrer’s lawyers have advised on that?

Julian Pike: No.

Q1060 Mr Watson: News Corp would never have sought your advice.

Julian Pike: That is correct.

Q1061 Mr Watson: Okay. Would the settlement have had to have been approved by a director of News International?

Julian Pike: As far as I am aware, no-I mean, in the sense that I am aware that James Murdoch’s authority was given for the settlement negotiations, and then it was my role to advise and carry out those negotiations.

Q1062 Mr Watson: How many years did you work for News International at Farrer’s?

Julian Pike: I have been at Farrer’s for 21 years and for the majority of that time I have worked for News Group.

Q1063 Mr Watson: So you would know whether a director would have to authorise a payment of that size or not. Presumably you knew what the scale of payments was and the approval-

Julian Pike: No. I know that in this particular case, because it was anticipated that damages would reach a level which Mr Crone did not have authority to sign off on, then, as he told me at the time, he would need to go and get Mr Murdoch’s approval.

Q1064 Mr Watson: But you did not know what the level of that settlement was.

Julian Pike: I don’t believe I did, no.

Q1065 Mr Watson: Before the settlement agreed with Taylor, what was the previous highest privacy pay-out that you had been involved in?

Julian Pike: It is difficult to be precise, but probably not more than about £30,000 to £40,000.

Q1066 Mr Watson: And would that have been for a story that was published?

Julian Pike: Probably, yes.

Q1067 Mr Watson: So a published story gets £30,000 to £40,000 and Taylor, for a story that does not get published, gets £425,000.

Julian Pike: Well, those are the facts, yes.

Q1068 Mr Watson: Why was that?

Julian Pike: I think there was a number of reasons. You have to be mindful that the process of negotiation in this particular case was such that I think it drove the damages to the level they were at. Also, one of the things that is perhaps being slightly confused in this Committee is the timings-

Mr Watson: Sorry, could you speak up, into the microphones?

Julian Pike: I said that one of the things that might be confusing with this issue in this Committee-I read some of the previous sessions-is that this was taking place before the Mosley decision was made public, while you were looking at things from the post-Mosley period as well. So in this instance, pre-Mosley, there was no precedent for this sort of case, and yet, while I am quite aware that damages awarded in other cases were relatively small, there was no like case here. Obviously, we had an instance in which the claimant was claiming general damages, aggravated damages and exemplary damages, and obviously therefore the risk of it being more than what you had seen prior to that was greater, and it was all happening before Mosley, when there was a ceiling.

Q1069 Mr Watson: You have not really answered my question, Mr Pike-or not adequately for me, though you might think you have answered my question. A story that was published gets £40,000 and you advise Crone to settle for £425,000 for a story that was not published. Does that not strike you as unusual?

Julian Pike: It is certainly an unusual case, I agree.

Q1070 Mr Watson: Is that because you knew the company would not want the phone hacking allegations to be made public?

Julian Pike: Let me take a step back here. You need to understand the way in which this case unravelled and negotiations took place. Back in May 2007, when Gordon Taylor had no evidence to support his case, he demanded £250,000. Having then received evidence which supported his case, it was obvious that he was not going to settle the case for less than he had demanded when he had no evidence, so immediately you are starting from a point that he was not going to resolve the case for less than £250,000. You know that the parameters of any negotiations have changed. Clearly in this instance all the negotiating strengths were with Mr Taylor and not with News Group, so the negotiating and bargaining positions were very different. Mr Taylor had the ability to negotiate a very strong settlement. He demanded £1 million, so we were negotiating against that sort of backdrop.

Q1071 Mr Watson: You were discussing the case with members of the company. You obviously knew that Crone was aware of the "for Neville" transcript. Was it discussed with the finance director of News International?

Julian Pike: I am not aware that it was discussed with her, no.

Q1072 Mr Watson: Were you aware that Crone had discussed it with any other staff member? Presumably you discussed it with Neville Thurlbeck, given that he was a staff member alleged to have been in receipt of the illegally transcribed voicemail interception?

Julian Pike: I do not know if Mr Crone discussed the settlement negotiation with Mr Thurlbeck, but I do know that, obviously, he discussed it with Colin Myler and James Murdoch.

Q1073 Mr Watson: But at no point did Crone tell you that he would have to raise it with Thurlbeck? Presumably he was wondering what this transcript was at the time. He had not seen it before; it appears in disclosure. The thing he would naturally have done is go to Thurlbeck and ask him what the hell was going on.

Julian Pike: He did discuss it with Neville Thurlbeck in May or June.

Q1074 Mr Watson: So Thurlbeck would have had to give his case to Crone. Is that right?

Julian Pike: That is right.

Q1075 Mr Watson: Presumably Crone would have explained that he would have to say to James Murdoch that he had raised it with Thurlbeck as well.

Julian Pike: I am sure he would have done, yes.

Q1076 Mr Watson: Okay. Why is it that News International used you, Mr Pike? I only say that because people tell me that you have a reputation for being a tough guy lawyer. Is that right?

Julian Pike: That is a hard question for me to answer-to say what my reputation is among other people.

Q1077 Mr Watson: Have you ever been accused of being a bullying lawyer?

Julian Pike: No.

Q1078 Mr Watson: No one has ever said that you are a bully?

Julian Pike: No.

Q1079 Mr Watson: Not ever?

Julian Pike: No.

Q1080 Mr Watson: Not even in a suicide note?

Julian Pike: In a suicide note, no.

Mr Watson: Okay. Thank you very much.

Q1081 Mr Sanders: In your view, how accurate was the advice given by leading counsel that, if taken to tribunal, News Corp, News Group Newspapers would expect to pay Gordon Taylor a sum at any level from £25,000 to £250,000, or possibly even more, although this was extremely unlikely?

Julian Pike: I think that was perfectly possible. Again, to go back, you were being given that advice in 2008, before Mosley, when there was not any comparable case to the present one. Therefore there was a risk that a judge might take a very, very dim view of what had happened.

Q1082 Mr Sanders: That is interesting. The Mosley case was about privacy.

Julian Pike: That is right.

Q1083 Mr Sanders: The Taylor case was also about privacy?

Julian Pike: Correct.

Q1084 Mr Sanders: If the likely maximum award then at the tribunal would have been £250,000, why would News Group Newspapers have agreed to settle at £425,000?

Julian Pike: As I explained, we knew that he was not going to settle for less than £250,000, so, following counsel’s advice, as you have just read it out, I was instructed to offer more by way of a part 36 on 3 June 2008. That is a perfectly standard approach. You would offer more than you think the case is worth, because it gives you greater protection, in terms of the part 36 regime, with regards to costs.

Q1085 Mr Sanders: But this was an unprecedented sum of money for a comparable case, was it not?

Julian Pike: Certainly, but it was an unprecedented case full stop, so there was no other case alongside it to consider.

Q1086 Mr Sanders: You said that the Mosley case was similar.

Julian Pike: But the Mosley case did not come to fruition-there was no judgment on that-until 24 July 2008, so while I appreciate that you have that information in front of you now, it was not available in May and June 2008. Having offered £350,000 on 3 June 2008, I also said on the telephone to the assistant at George Davies that if the matter could be resolved quickly and with confidentiality, there was probably a little bit more on the table for Mr Taylor.

Q1087 Philip Davies: At what point would you have said to Gordon Taylor, "That’s it then. This has broken down. We’ll let somebody else decide this"? What level were you going to get to before you got to that, or were you told to settle at any price?

Julian Pike: No to the latter. I think we were actually pretty close to saying, "No. We’re not paying you any more." I did not believe that he would get more than £350,000 from a judge, but the economics of litigation are that, even at this level, you probably pay more simply because you have saved yourself an awful lot of costs.

Q1088 Philip Davies: Can you just explain clearly exactly what your brief was? Was it to settle the case at the best possible price?

Julian Pike: Correct.

Q1089 Philip Davies: The thing that I have a problem with there is that if you are told to settle the case at the best possible price, that indicates to me that there was, in effect, a bottomless pit of money, and that your job was simply to get it to the lowest possible point. You were not given an approach of, "Go to this, and if it reaches this level, we will see them in court." You are not explaining. You are saying that what you had to do was settle the case at the best possible price. That is very different to saying, "We’ll go up to a certain amount, and after that we’ll see them in court."

Julian Pike: I think it is a combination of both, actually. I was given instructions to settle the case, but clearly if the demands had remained, for example, at £1 million, I do not think that I would have been instructed to pay £1 million.

Q1090 Philip Davies: Was any figure mentioned beforehand as to what you could go up to?

Julian Pike: Half a million pounds.

Q1091 Philip Davies: Half a million pounds was the figure that you were authorised to go up to?

Julian Pike: Yes.

Q1092 Paul Farrelly: As a solicitor, on a know-your-client basis, do you just follow instructions, or do you ever ask why?

Julian Pike: I always ask why, but it depends on what the instructions are.

Q1093 Paul Farrelly: So in this case, for a story that was unpublished, did you ask why the limit was up to half a million pounds?

Julian Pike: No, because I knew why. I could see why we were going to have to pay more than, as I just explained, I thought the case was worth.

Q1094 Paul Farrelly: Tell us why.

Julian Pike: As I have just explained-

Paul Farrelly: Tell us again.

Julian Pike: Okay, fine. In 2007, Mr Taylor has no evidence to support his case, and yet he demands £250,000. A year later, in April 2008, the "for Neville" e-mail and the other evidence was disclosed to us. Clearly, the fact that he now got this evidence means that he is not going to settle for less than £250,000. That is also very evident from the conversation that I had with his lawyer, who says that he wants to be vindicated or made rich, that he wants to hurt News Group Newspapers, and that he wants £1 million. Clearly, you are negotiating with somebody who is understandably very vengeful about what has happened and who wants £1 million. Therefore, to settle the case, what you are negotiating is within the realms of £250,000 up to £1 million. Even when you are talking about those sums of money, the economics of litigation are such that the gap is-

Q1095 Paul Farrelly: So the evidence was simply the "for Neville" e-mail, was it?

Julian Pike: That was the critical piece of evidence. Absolutely.

Q1096 Paul Farrelly: The company’s defence at the time, in front of this Committee, was that this was something that was transcribed by a junior reporter; it never got to who it was intended for, and this was a rogue private investigator. Did you delve into the reasons why the "for Neville" e-mail might have been so significant that you were instructed to settle for up to £500,000?

Julian Pike: I am not sure your account is absolutely right, but on the point of your question, it was quite clear, having seen the "for Neville" e-mail-there was also the previous contract, you remember, from February 2005-that there was involvement of News of the World journalists other than Goodman. That clearly indicated that in this instance you were going to have to settle the Taylor case, because there would be no question of liability. It was always going to be found in Mr Taylor’s favour, but it also indicates that there was wider involvement in phone activity than Mr Goodman.

Q1097 Paul Farrelly: So it was quite clear to you at the time that the "one rogue reporter" defence that the company was still maintaining, including in front of this Committee, was not true.

Julian Pike: That is correct.

Q1098 Paul Farrelly: I will finish with this one question now, and I will come in later. You follow the proceedings of this Committee, presumably.

Julian Pike: Yes, I have.

Q1099 Paul Farrelly: At what stage did it become clear to you that the line that we were being given was not the truth?

Julian Pike: It would have been at the point it was given to you.

Q1100 Paul Farrelly: Right, and what did you do, as a professional lawyer, about that?

Julian Pike: To be honest, I have not done very much.

Q1101 Paul Farrelly: You did not do very much at all. You did not, for professional standing, complain to your client that what they were telling this Committee was not the truth, even though you say that you were aware that they were not telling the truth.

Julian Pike: It is not a question of complaining to them-

Q1102 Paul Farrelly: In whichever words you choose, did you make any representations to them?

Julian Pike: Not at the time, no.

Q1103 Paul Farrelly: Is that very professional on your part?

Julian Pike: I do not think it has caused me any professional embarrassment in that sense, no.

Paul Farrelly: I am not surprised.

Q1104 Jim Sheridan: Have you any idea whatsoever how far up the food chain in News International these negotiations and the ultimate settlement went? Would Rupert Murdoch or any of the senior directors on the board be aware of this?

Julian Pike: I am not aware that Mr Murdoch senior-

Jim Sheridan: Rupert Murdoch?

Julian Pike: Yes. I am not aware of him being involved, but I do know that James Murdoch knew of the Taylor matter, obviously.

Q1105 Jim Sheridan: Would this have gone to the board of directors?

Julian Pike: No. I am aware that there were a number of meetings with James Murdoch about it.

Q1106 Jim Sheridan: But no one else?

Julian Pike: I am not aware of anybody else.

Q1107 Dr Coffey: Could Mr Pike just repeat that, and just say who he felt was aware at News Corp before the settlement was agreed? Did you say Rupert Murdoch was aware?

Julian Pike: No.

Dr Coffey: Okay, that is what I could not hear.

Q1108 Louise Mensch: I asked Mr James Murdoch at our session in July whether one of the discrepancies between the large amount paid to Gordon Taylor, and the lesser settlements that the company had made in cases that did not include a confidentiality clause, was the issue of confidentiality, and whether an inference could be drawn that confidentiality had played a role in the size of the settlement. He replied, "And that inference would be false." He has since written to this Committee to correct that part of his testimony, and said that he was unaware at the time when he testified that confidentiality had played a part in the size of the Taylor settlement. Your letters to the Committee-or the firm’s letters to the Committee-state that you could not put an exact figure on confidentiality, but that it was a key part of the settlement. Can you expand on how important keeping this confidential was to the size of the settlement you were authorised to make?

Julian Pike: Clearly, confidentiality was very important for News Group. I am not quite sure that you can marry that importance up directly with the money, because the negotiation, as I have been explaining to you this morning, gets you to the figure that you arrive at, and as I said a few minutes ago, when I telephoned George Davies on 3 June 2008, I said, "Here’s £350,000, which is a part 36 offer. If we can resolve this quickly and with a basis of confidentiality, there is a little bit more on the table."

Q1109 Louise Mensch: You requested confidentiality. Previously, people have said to us that confidentiality was part of the negotiations because Mr Taylor had also requested confidentiality, but you are now saying that you specifically said, "If this can be kept confidential, there is more money on the table."

Julian Pike: Confidentiality was first raised-as Mr Crone told you, I understand-when he had a meeting with George Davies in 2007. I did not attend that meeting, so I do not know what was actually said at the meeting, but clearly confidentiality was a very important point for Mr Taylor, too, albeit for very different reasons. Yes, confidentiality was very important for News Group, you cannot marry it up perfectly with the amount of money that was paid or any particular parts of it. In a sense, the best you could do is say that some of the difference between £350,000 and the amount paid, which was £425,000, would relate to confidentiality.

Q1110 Louise Mensch: That is a fairly big difference.

Julian Pike: Well, in the scale of things it is not a huge amount.

Q1111 Louise Mensch: In all your previous answers, you have tended to discuss the discrete costs of the case to News Group-your liability for costs under the part 36 offer. Therefore, you have been discussing the settlement in terms of how much it would cost overall were you to go to court, lose, and pay the other side’s costs. A cap was placed of £500,000. Who told you that the cap was £500,000?

Julian Pike: No, you are confusing a couple of things there. The £500,000 was, as I said, what I was told the News Group was prepared to go up to in terms of paying damages.

Q1112 Louise Mensch: Who told you that?

Julian Pike: Tom Crone.

Q1113 Louise Mensch: Tom Crone said that the cap was £500,000; fine. So far, your evidence has tended towards the cost of the case itself, rather than any further liability to News Group from other litigants should the Gordon Taylor case and the "for Neville" e-mail become public and other people join in and sue News International. In other words, you are looking only at the costs of the Gordon Taylor settlement itself. Given that you said that you recognised the significance of the "for Neville" e-mail and that hacking had gone further, did you not advise your clients that, if this were to become public, many other hacking victims might come forward and also sue their company, so it would be very good to settle, and confidentiality would be absolutely crucial to that settlement?

Julian Pike: What we advised at the time was that confidentiality obviously was important to them, because it would assist in protecting the company’s reputation generally speaking. It was not known to us at that time whether or not there were a large number of other potential claimants. We were obviously aware of those other people who had been victims in the criminal case, but it was not known then-unlike now-whether or not there were lots of other people out there.

Q1114 Louise Mensch: Just to expand on the question from my colleague, Mr Farrelly, what struck me greatly about Mr Crone’s testimony to the Committee is this. After the meeting in which he said that Mr Murdoch was aware of the "for Neville" e-mail and would definitely have been aware that hacking had gone wider, I asked him what the consequences were at that meeting, he being the legal director of the company. His testimony is that widespread wrongdoing had been happening at the News of the World. I asked him what the consequences were, and he pretty much said "Nothing". There was a 15-minute meeting, and nothing happened. He, as legal director, did nothing.

You, as the representative of a very senior firm of solicitors with an impeccable reputation, were aware that phone hacking had gone wider than one rogue reporter, and that Parliament was being lied to, and yet again there were absolutely no consequences. No legal advice was given to News International that it should make a clean breast of it or that it should stop giving false testimony to Parliament. How do you explain that to people watching, who will not understand why lawyers-both internally and externally-for News Group appeared to condone very serious breaking of the law?

Julian Pike: You are asking me to go outside the Taylor case and, as I already wrote to you yesterday, I cannot help you in answering that question.

Q1115 Louise Mensch: I do not wish to trample on your legal professional privilege at all, but given that you have been exempted from privilege by your clients in discussing the Taylor case, and it is the Taylor case that opened up the issue that phone hacking went wider in the News of the World, it distinctly relates to the Taylor case, which blew open the fact that there was ongoing wrongdoing. I want to know why, as external counsel to News Corp, you did not recommend some serious review of practices.

Julian Pike: In summary, the advice given in 2008 was that three journalists other than Goodman were involved in phone hacking. Secondly, News Group was going to have to admit liability in relation to the Taylor case and, thirdly, it was advised by counsel and ourselves that there was a powerful case to support a culture of illegally accessing information in order to get stories. That is what we advised in the context of the Taylor case. Your question originally asked me to go outside the Taylor case and give answers in relation to other information, which I cannot do at the moment; it is privileged.

Q1116 Louise Mensch: There are references to the legal counsel; who was the legal counsel who advised you that the cost would be £250,000?

Julian Pike: Michael Silverleaf QC.

Q1117 Louise Mensch: Thank you. One last thing, Mr Chairman; I am sorry to trample on your time. You said earlier in answer to Mr Watson that the fact of Neville Thurlbeck knowing about this would have been discussed with James Murdoch, but the testimony of Mr Myler and Mr Crone to the Committee was that they could not remember whether they had shown him the e-mail in the meeting in question, or whether they had used the name "Neville." In his written evidence to the Committee, Mr Murdoch states that Neville Thurlbeck’s name was never mentioned to him. Do you merely assume that they would have discussed the matter with Mr Murdoch? Do you have any evidence or attendance notes, or anything to suggest that they discussed Neville Thurlbeck with Mr Murdoch, which would contradict Mr Murdoch’s testimony?

Julian Pike: On 27 May 2008, Colin Myler had a meeting with James Murdoch, which I know took place for two reasons. First, three days earlier, on 24 May, I was copied in on a briefing that Tom Crone had given to Colin Myler about that meeting. Secondly, after the meeting, I was telephoned by Colin Myler, who told me that it had taken place, and that they wanted to wait until they had counsel’s advice.

Q1118 Louise Mensch: Did any of those notes or briefings indicate that Neville Thurlbeck had been specifically discussed with Mr Murdoch?

Julian Pike: The briefing notes referred to the fact that the e-mail had been found and disclosed to us, but they did not identify Neville Thurlbeck by name.

Q1119 Louise Mensch: So Mr Murdoch might justifiably say to the Committee that the e-mail in question told him that he had to settle the case, but that he was not told about an e-mail addressed to Neville Thurlbeck? Could he legitimately say that he did not know that it had spread beyond Goodman and Mulcaire, but merely knew that he was going to lose the case and had to settle?

Julian Pike: No. Had he read the e-mail and notes as being a reference to Goodman, I think he would have expected to see Goodman’s name in those notes. In fact, the e-mail refers to a News of the World reporter, which indicates that it is not Goodman.

Q1120 Louise Mensch: Yes, true. So you are saying that he would have been told that it had spread beyond Goodman or Mulcaire.

Julian Pike: I think he would have been told, but I was not at the meeting. I do not recall that piece of information in particular being reported back to me after meetings.

Q1121 Philip Davies: I am just a bit puzzled about the process. At the start you said that this case was going to go beyond the limit at which Tom Crone was authorised to settle things. What limit would he have been authorised to settle at?

Julian Pike: To be perfectly honest, I do not think I have ever known that.

Philip Davies: Roughly?

Julian Pike: I would not want to put a figure on it, on the basis that it would be guesswork on my part.

Q1122 Philip Davies: Would it be £25,000?

Julian Pike: It would be more than that. It would be a low six-figure sum, I imagine.

Q1123 Philip Davies: That is fine. I am struggling with the fact that you said you were authorised to settle the case for up to £500,000, and that you were told that by Tom Crone.

Julian Pike: That is correct.

Q1124 Philip Davies: That is beyond Tom Crone’s authorisation level, so it cannot have been him who authorised it. Who said that you could go up to £500,000?

Julian Pike: It would have been James Murdoch giving an instruction to Tom Crone and Colin Myler.

Q1125 Philip Davies: So that authorisation of £500,000 came from James Murdoch?

Julian Pike: I assume so.

Q1126 Philip Davies: There is another bit that I do not understand. I am interested in the process. I would have thought that it would have worked the other way round, and that you would have been left to negotiate the best possible deal for News International. You would then have reported back to News International to say that the best possible price you could get was x.

Julian Pike: It does not really work like that.

Q1127 Philip Davies: No?

Julian Pike: No. In this instance, we made an opening offer of £50,000. That was rejected. We then increased it to £150,000, and when that was rejected, we put in, on the basis of counsel’s advice, a part 36 for £350,000. As we are doing this, we are obviously having discussion with Tom Crone, saying, "We think we should go up to this figure for these reasons. Do you agree?" He would have his own input in that, so it is not just a question of me negotiating and coming back at the end, saying, "This is the best deal you can do. Okay?" It is a much more involved process.

Q1128 Philip Davies: On what date were you told that you could go up to £500,000?

Julian Pike: It would have been, I think, around about 10 June, which is the date of the Colin Myler and Tom Crone meeting with James Murdoch.

Q1129 Philip Davies: So it was as a result of that meeting that you were given authorisation to go up to £500,000?

Julian Pike: I think so, yes.

Q1130 Paul Farrelly: Can I just ask you, Mr Pike, what would happen at Farrer’s if you or any other solicitors, under your professional code or Farrer’s own code, became aware that a client had told a blatant lie to a court?

Julian Pike: I am not sure we have had that situation before.

Q1131 Paul Farrelly: But what would happen professionally?

Julian Pike: Obviously, we would discuss it among ourselves and come to a view.

Q1132 Paul Farrelly: And what would that view be?

Julian Pike: Well, it is a hypothetical question you are asking me, but, clearly, we would take a pretty dim view of what was happening.

Q1133 Paul Farrelly: You would? Might you resign from representing that client?

Julian Pike: That is certainly a possibility.

Q1134 Paul Farrelly: Might you ask the client to correct the record?

Julian Pike: That is certainly a possibility.

Q1135 Paul Farrelly: Who is Farrer’s most high-profile client?

Julian Pike: I do not think you need to ask that question; you know who that is.

Q1136 Paul Farrelly: Well, tell us.

Julian Pike: The Queen.

Q1137 Paul Farrelly: The Queen, who has a palace just up the road.

Julian Pike: I believe so.

Q1138 Paul Farrelly: From Parliament.

Julian Pike: I believe so.

Q1139 Paul Farrelly: Yet you have told us that you were aware from the moment that News International came in front of Parliament that it was not telling the truth and did nothing. Does that make you uncomfortable?

Julian Pike: Not especially, no.

Q1140 Paul Farrelly: So the Queen should continue to employ a firm whose solicitors do nothing with a client who they know comes and lies to Parliament?

Julian Pike: I think you are looking at this with the benefit of hindsight.

Q1141 Paul Farrelly: Do you have any scruples?

Julian Pike: Yes, I do.

Q1142 Paul Farrelly: What are they?

Julian Pike: I do behave with integrity.

Q1143 Paul Farrelly: Do you consider that you have behaved with integrity in this affair?

Julian Pike: Yes.

Q1144 Damian Collins: Mr Pike, I want to go back briefly to something you referred to earlier. You said you had notes of a meeting that had taken place between Colin Myler and James Murdoch on 24 May.

Julian Pike: 27 May.

Q1145 Damian Collins: Sorry, 27 May 2008. Your understanding of that meeting was that it was a discussion to update James Murdoch on the Taylor case, and a prelude to the meeting with Tom Crone, where they then discussed whether they should settle the case and the terms of reference for that.

Julian Pike: That is broadly right; 27 May was probably the first time James Murdoch had been given a briefing about the cases.

Q1146 Damian Collins: The reason I ask that is that we sent a series of questions to James Murdoch after his appearance before the Committee. That included this question: "Before authorising the Gordon Taylor settlement, what did you know about the interception and other facts surrounding it". In his answer to that, he says, "Prior to the meeting of 10 June 2008, I do not recall being given any briefing nor do I recall Mr Crone or Mr Myler referring to, or showing me…documents during the meeting"-the meeting on 10 June. However, from what you have said, your view would be that that is not accurate and that James Murdoch was given a briefing before 10 June by Colin Myler.

Julian Pike: That is correct. I am aware that there was a number of meetings and the 27 May meeting and the 10 June meeting were two of those meetings.

Q1147 Damian Collins: So from your point of view of the terms of the case and possibly the need to settle the case because of the existence of documentary evidence that potentially proved that the transcript had passed through the News of the World and that the News of the World was directly implicated, your view is that James Murdoch would have been briefed on those points before 10 June?

Julian Pike: Yes.

Q1148 Damian Collins: And the meeting on 10 June was simply to discuss with legal advice what they should do about that?

Julian Pike: Well, the first meeting was only with Colin Myler. The second meeting was with Colin Myler and Tom Crone, so broadly I think you are probably right.

Q1149 Damian Collins: So James Murdoch has mis-recalled the sequence of events in that regard?

Julian Pike: I think so, yes.

Q1150 Damian Collins: Can you tell us in the remit you have to give evidence to us, if Farrer prepare a note for Colin Myler on that meeting on 27 May, or a background briefing for him?

Julian Pike: No. As I said earlier, Tom Crone prepared a note for that meeting and it was sent to me, by way of copying me in, on 24 May.

Q1151 Damian Collins: Would it be possible for the Committee to receive a copy of that document?

Julian Pike: I can take instructions on that.

Q1152 Mr Watson: On the document-the 24 May document-can you tell me who else was copied in?

Julian Pike: No one else was copied in, as far as I am aware. I cannot say if there were any blind copies.

Q1153 Mr Watson: So it was Crone to Myler, cc you?

Julian Pike: Yes.

Q1154 Mr Watson: And there is no legal privilege issue for you disclosing the document, given that you have had legal privilege waived. Is that correct?

Julian Pike: That is correct, yes.

Q1155 Mr Watson: And the note of the telephone call you had with Myler about it on the 26th-is that right?

Julian Pike: The 27th.

Mr Watson: Presumably, you bill clients by the hour, so you record electronically the conversations you have and the case you are on?

Julian Pike: That is correct.

Q1156 Mr Watson: So would you be able to give us the record of contacts for that period on this particular case?

Julian Pike: I can do that.

Mr Watson: You can do that?

Julian Pike: I can.

Mr Watson: Thank you very much.

Q1157 Damian Collins: I want to move on to the letter the Committee received on 2 September from Farrer, which my colleague Mr Watson referred to before. In terms of understanding the background and the process, I just want to ask some questions relating to the paragraphs at the bottom of page 2, where it says: "The Firm’s attention was first drawn to the existence of what was known as the ‘for Neville’ email on 1 November 2007, when it was referred to by the Metropolitan Police in response to an inquiry made by the Firm on 28 September". Could you tell us a little more about what the Metropolitan police said in their response to you?

Julian Pike: I will give you a bit of background on that. Over the summer of 2007, the view we had of the case was that it was so weak that it ought to be struck out-it should be dismissed. In order to allow us to do that, we obviously needed to make sure that the Metropolitan police did not have any evidence to suggest that News Group was involved in Glenn Mulcaire’s activities, so we wrote to the Metropolitan police to get that confirmation. Obviously, what they came back with was, "Actually, we have got this document", and therefore that is how the Neville e-mail materialised.

Q1158 Damian Collins: How did they describe the document they had?

Julian Pike: They very broadly just described it as an e-mail that implicated News Group. They did not give it to us at that stage; they simply described it very briefly. So we were aware that there was an e-mail that suggested News Group’s involvement in this.

Q1159 Damian Collins: And that was a letter that was sent to Farrer?

Julian Pike: That is correct. It was also sent to George Davies.

Q1160 Damian Collins: Did you discuss that with Tom Crone?

Julian Pike: Yes.

Q1161 Damian Collins: So Tom Crone was aware, certainly in November 2007, that the Metropolitan police was asserting that it had documentary proof that linked News of the World to the Gordon Taylor case?

Julian Pike: Correct.

Q1162 Damian Collins: Again, Mr Crone is certainly a man who chooses his words carefully. In his written evidence to the Committee, which was submitted on 21 July, he says: "Mr Taylor’s case was circumstantial and NGN itself had neither found nor seen direct evidence to support it" until April 2008. That was the case?

Julian Pike: That is right.

Q1163 Damian Collins: I suppose that means that he had not actually physically seen the documents.

Julian Pike: No, the process after November was that George Davies then applied to court in December for the documents from the police and from the Information Commissioner’s office. Then those documents were disclosed to them during the early part of 2008. Then we did not get the documents until April 2008, so the first time we saw the "for Neville" document was in April 2008.

Q1164 Damian Collins: So you saw it then, but the impression Mr Crone is giving was that this was-not a bolt from the blue, but that until April 2008, there was no real knowledge that this document existed and therefore what the implications were for the settlement. Really, though, from what you are saying, from November the previous year, Tom Crone and News International were aware of the potential existence of this document; you had not physically got it, so you probably could not decide exactly what course of action to take, but nevertheless you had a pretty good idea of what was coming?

Julian Pike: You are sort of on the right lines. Broadly you are right, but what we did not know was what was actually in the document, so it may be that once you saw the document there was an obvious explanation for it-it might be a forgery, for argument’s sake. Not until you actually see the document can you form a view on it.

Q1165 Damian Collins: But the significance of the document was not so much what it contained, but the fact that it was evidence that linked News International and News of the World to this case and that previously had not been established.

Julian Pike: That is right.

Q1166 Damian Collins: At that point, even though you had not actually seen the document, it was known by Tom Crone in November 2007 and was known by News International at that time. Did you discuss with them in the intervening period before you saw the document itself in April 2008, the impact this might have on the case and how the company might need to think differently about how it might settle the case?

Julian Pike: No, we did not. We were obviously waiting to see the documents.

Q1167 Damian Collins: So no further action was taken until that was the case?

Julian Pike: No.

Q1168 Damian Collins: Did Tom Crone ask your opinion on what the implications might be for the company if the document were produced and proved to be genuine?

Julian Pike: I don’t think he did, but that is because he had a pretty clear view himself as to the importance of the documents.

Q1169 Damian Collins: I want to ask a final question on the settlement amount-I appreciate that colleagues have already covered this in some detail. I understand that, from your point of view, if Gordon Taylor had asked for £250,000 initially and that had been declined, he was always going to want more than that. Presumably, though, there is a question of whether his initial offer was reasonable in the first place. If he had asked for £1 million in 2007, would you then have assumed that it would be perfectly reasonable to settle above £1 million after April 2008?

Julian Pike: No. Certainly if you get to those sorts of figures then you are off the scale, I agree.

Q1170 Damian Collins: But already an opening offer of £250,000 would be seen as off the scale by most people, given the previous cases.

Julian Pike: I know, but again you have to put it back into the context of two things. Obviously News Group wanted to keep this confidential if it could. Secondly, £250,000, when it comes to the costs of fighting a case, is very quickly eaten up, particularly, for example-although I don’t think it applied in this case-if you have a CFA case then you would be talking about double your money each time, so a £1 million case costs-wise for claimants suddenly becomes a £2 million case. In that context, £250,000 is a lot of money, yes, but you have to see it in the context of the overall costs of the litigation.

Q1171 Damian Collins: Okay. One further question on something we have previously discussed. Did you have any indication from Tom Crone of whether he had discussed with other people at News International the existence of this evidence that the police said they had?

Julian Pike: As I say, I am obviously aware that he had spoken to James Murdoch about it and Colin Myler, because those three had been discussing resolving the case and James Murdoch’s authority was required to settle-

Q1172 Damian Collins: Sorry, you are talking about the June 2008 meeting. I was talking about in November 2007.

Julian Pike: I am not aware of any discussion at that stage, no.

Q1173 Paul Farrelly: I just want to be precise on the point Damian was asking about. At any time during these negotiations to settle for this large amount of money about a story that had not been published, were you made aware by Mr Crone or anybody else with whom you were dealing, that James Murdoch had been shown and had digested the "for Neville" e-mail?

Julian Pike: No, I was not aware that he had actually been shown it.

Q1174 Paul Farrelly: You never asked?

Julian Pike: No, I did not ask. I gave the advice to Tom Crone. He is the in-house lawyer and it is his job to take instructions internally.

Q1175 Chair: Can I ask you about one other aspect? You have said that the final settlement terms were influenced by the confidentiality requirement, as has now been confirmed by James Murdoch, so clearly that was quite important. The publication on 8 July 2009 by The Guardian represented a very serious breach of the confidentiality agreement did it not?

Julian Pike: It did.

Q1176 Chair: In publishing details of the Gordon Taylor settlement, The Guardian knew not only the sum that the settlement comprised, but the existence of the "for Neville" e-mail and the Information Commissioner documents. How could The Guardian have got hold of those?

Julian Pike: There were not many people who would have known about all of those things for sure. On our side, Tom Crone and I would have known about it, and Mr Lewis and Mr Taylor would have known about it.

Q1177 Chair: So, there are four possible sources-Farrer, News Corp, Gordon Taylor and Gordon Taylor’s lawyers. For The Guardian to have those documents, one of those four must have given The Guardian the documents.

Julian Pike: That is probably right, yes.

Q1178 Chair: When this serious breach of confidentiality occurred, what was your advice to News Corp? Did you say, "Ignore it, there’s nothing much that we can do about it"?

Julian Pike: Well, there’s not an awful lot you can do about it, unless you can prove where the breach of confidence has come from. You can have your own opinion, but whether you can prove it is another matter.

Q1179 Chair: Can I ask you and your firm whether or not you gave The Guardian those documents?

Julian Pike: Absolutely not.

Q1180 Paul Farrelly: It would not be just four parties, would it? Were there many people in the court, including the judge?

Julian Pike: No, because I don’t think that this case ever went in front of a judge and the court did not have the documents that were disclosed to The Guardian.

Q1181 Paul Farrelly: In your experience, have you ever been involved in a case where a court has been asked and has complied with a request to seal all the files?

Julian Pike: Yes.

Q1182 Paul Farrelly: How many?

Julian Pike: I cannot put a figure on it, but it is not uncommon in a privacy case. Quite often in privacy cases, the claimant goes off and that is the first thing they do having issued the proceedings. It is pretty common in privacy cases.

Chair: Tom, last question?

Q1183 Mr Watson: Well, following up on questions revealing new information, Chair.

Mr Pike, there is a brutal honesty to your testimony this morning that is revealing and gives a level of detail that we were not aware of before. I should just like to pull you up on a few points. I hope that I have written these down quickly enough to be accurate. You said that a number of issues led you to believe that other journalists were involved in phone hacking. One of them was the contract in 2005.

Julian Pike: No, you are talking about the contract between News of the World and Glenn Mulcaire-

Q1184 Mr Watson: I am not; you mentioned 2005. Which contract was that? That was a separate contract for £12,000.

Julian Pike: No, it was the pre-publication contract, dated 4 February 2005. It was for the Gordon Taylor story. You remember this?

Q1185 Mr Watson: I’m aware of that, but we have not seen the contract. Could you provide us with that?

Julian Pike: I think you have seen it.

Q1186 Mr Watson: If we have not, you can reveal it? Okay. Then you said that there were three things that you took from the disclosure. The first was that three journalists were involved in phone hacking; the second was that News Group should accept liability for Taylor; and the third was that there was a powerful case to support the fact that there was a much wider use of phone hacking in the company.

Julian Pike: No, I said the powerful use of illegal accessing of information.

Q1187 Mr Watson: "Powerful use of illegal accessing of information". Let me just take you through point one. Were you aware of which three journalists-I am not going to ask you to name them-were involved in phone hacking?

Julian Pike: I had three names, yes.

Q1188 Mr Watson: Did you tell Tom Crone?

Julian Pike: He did know that.

Q1189 Mr Watson: So he was aware at that point that the external lawyers had raised their view that others were involved in phone hacking?

Julian Pike: Correct.

Q1190 Mr Watson: Were you surprised that the company did not tell the police that criminal wrongdoing had taken place in the newsroom?

Julian Pike: Probably not. I wasn’t surprised.

Q1191 Mr Watson: Why was that? Was it because you thought that they got up to that all the time anyway and it was commonplace?

Julian Pike: No, not at all. I think at that stage I was being instructed that they wanted to settle this case on confidential terms, and, having done so, it would be quite surprising therefore if they were to go and do something which was going to open the can, as it were.

Q1192 Mr Watson: In your understanding of any norms of corporate governance, though, do you find that unusual-that a company of that size that takes a zero tolerance approach to wrongdoing would not report a crime by its employees?

Julian Pike: I think it is quite commonplace for there to be confidentiality agreements around litigation, and there is no obligation on me as a lawyer to go and report something that I see within a case where there might have been some criminal activity. Your application of zero tolerance, although correct, is obviously using something that they have said since then, as opposed to something they said at the time, I think you’ll find.

Q1193 Mr Watson: So they weren’t applying zero tolerance to wrongdoing back then?

Julian Pike: I don’t know. It was outside my knowledge.

Q1194 Mr Watson: Going back to the detail, Crone told you that he would discuss the transcript with Neville Thurlbeck.

Julian Pike: No. He told me that he had gone to see Neville about the e-mail.

Q1195 Mr Watson: He needed to find out.

Julian Pike: Yes.

Q1196 Mr Watson: So it is perfectly reasonable to assume that in his 15 minutes with James Murdoch, he would inform him that he had talked to Neville Thurlbeck and asked him what his view was.

Julian Pike: I do not know the answer to that question. That is a reasonable conclusion one might draw; I understand that-but I do not know the answer as a matter of fact.

Q1197 Mr Watson: Could you just explain the powerful case-what did you say?

Julian Pike: I said there was a powerful case that there was evidence to support illegal accessing of information in order to obtain stories.

Q1198 Mr Watson: And you told Crone that at the time?

Julian Pike: That was given in the advice, yes.

Q1199 Mr Watson: In written advice?

Julian Pike: Yes.

Q1200 Mr Watson: And you can provide that to us?

Julian Pike: As I said, I will take instructions on it, yes.

Q1201 Mr Watson: But you have been-client privilege has been lifted?

Julian Pike: I do not have a problem with you seeing it.

Q1202 Mr Watson: So there is no problem whatsoever from a privilege point of view?

Julian Pike: I agree.

Q1203 Paul Farrelly: Just two final questions: in terms of the phrase "accessing information", at any stage when you were employed by News International and the News of the World, did you ever become aware that any of that accessing of information extended beyond phone hacking?

Julian Pike: No, the reference to that in the opinion was very much based around the Information Commissioner’s evidence, which was disclosed, which you will be familiar with in terms of two reports, "What price privacy?" and "What price privacy now?" That is where that information has come from. Generally speaking I am not aware that there was lots of illegal accessing of information. Journalists aren’t saints, I know that, but that does not mean that everything they do is criminal, either.

Q1204 Paul Farrelly: Finally, in making no attempt to get your client to correct the record, when you knew that they had come here and not told the truth, to what extent do you feel that you and Farrer’s were part and parcel of a cover-up?

Julian Pike: Not party to any cover-up.

Q1205 Louise Mensch: Briefly, because I know my colleague Dr Coffey wants to come in, Mr Watson just said that it was a normal inference that they would have discussed Neville Thurlbeck’s position on this at the meeting. Yet it was Mr Crone’s testimony that he did not use the name "Neville", and he could not remember if he had shown the "for Neville" email. Just to be absolutely clear, because you will appreciate that it is important for this Committee to determine if Mr James Murdoch has lied to the Committee, it is not your testimony that he was made aware of Neville Thurlbeck’s name specifically, or of the "for Neville" e-mail specifically, but rather that he was made aware that an additional News of the World reporter had been made aware of phone hacking, and in that sense he was indeed made aware that hacking had gone beyond Goodman and Mulcaire: is that accurate?

Julian Pike: I was not at the meeting, so I can’t actually say what was said.

Q1206 Louise Mensch: But you have a briefing note.

Julian Pike: But I have a briefing note that does refer to the fact that there had been an e-mail sent by a News of the World reporter.

Q1207 Louise Mensch: Yet Mr Crone, in his recollection, and Mr Myler, in testimony to us of that meeting with Mr Murdoch, both said that-briefing note set aside-testified that they could not remember if they had either shown him the email or used the word "Neville" at all. Is it not conceivable that whatever was raised-was the briefing note previous to the meeting, or post the meeting?

Julian Pike: Shall I give you a time line? A briefing note is sent by Tom Crone to Colin Myler on 24 May 2008. The first meeting or conversation is on 27 May 2008, between James Murdoch and Colin Myler.

Q1208 Louise Mensch: Not Tom Crone.

Julian Pike: Not Tom Crone. The counsel opinion arrives on 3 June 2008, and on 10 June, there is the meeting between Colin Myler, Tom Crone and James Murdoch.

Q1209 Louise Mensch: Therefore-excuse me, but this is an extremely important point of fact. What you have referred to is that the briefing note is evidence that they would have discussed the "for Neville" thing, that there was an additional reporter, yet their testimony to us of the meeting on 10 June stated that they could not remember whether they had either shown Mr Murdoch the e-mail or brought up the words "for Neville". Therefore, it is plausible, is it not, that Mr Murdoch is in fact correct when, whatever the briefing note said-it might have said, "We should raise this with Mr Murdoch"-it was not in fact raised with him?

Julian Pike: Both are possible. I do not know. I wasn’t at the meeting.

Louise Mensch: Thank you.

Q1210 Dr Coffey: Can I clarify a couple of things? Just after the meeting on 27 May, after Mr Myler met James Murdoch, can you clarify what I thought you said earlier? Did Colin Myler telephone you personally to discuss the meeting?

Julian Pike: That is right. Not so much to discuss the meeting as to report back that he had had the meeting. As I said to you, what he told me was that they wanted to wait until they had counsel opinions.

Q1211 Dr Coffey: So that is when the external opinion was sought, and then it was given on 3 June?

Julian Pike: It was on its way by then, anyway.

Q1212 Dr Coffey: Earlier, you made a strong assertion that News International executives had misled Parliament, on the basis of your knowledge. Can you confirm who exactly you think misled us? Did they knowingly mislead, in your view? Not in your view; in the evidence that you have as legal advice, did they knowingly mislead, or was it a question of briefings done incorrectly?

Julian Pike: It’s very difficult to answer that question, because I can sit here today, having had the ability to go back and look my file and my notes. If I had not been able to do that, I would not have been able to recollect with accuracy dates, times and so on. I suspect that none of those who have been in front of you have had the ability that I have had to go back and look at contemporaneous records, so I think it would be very unfair of me to say whether someone deliberately or only inadvertently misled you. Frankly, it’s not a fair question of me-I cannot give you a proper answer to that-but there is a difference, in the sense that I have the ability to look at contemporaneous records, and they probably do not.

Q1213 Dr Coffey: Can I also clarify the advice you gave in 2008 about the three journalists involved in the "powerful case to support a culture of illegal accessing of information"? What stopped you as a solicitor reporting crime to the police?

Julian Pike: There is no obligation on me to do so. You’ve had a paper from Harbottle on this point already. I would simply adopt what they have said to you.

Dr Coffey: Thank you.

Chair: We need to move on quite rapidly. Paul, you’ve had five final questions already. Damian first.

Q1214 Damian Collins: I want to clarify something that we discussed earlier and that Louise asked about as well. We didn’t know about the meeting on 27 May until today, and in fact James Murdoch said to us in his evidence that he wasn’t briefed before 10 June, which, based on your testimony, simply isn’t true. It is possible, therefore, that they may have discussed the Thurlbeck issue on 27 May, but previously, all our questions were directed to the meeting on 10 June, where it may not have been discussed because they had already covered it. That could be the case, from your point of view?

Julian Pike: It’s possible.

Q1215 Damian Collins: Do you think you should be able to supply us with that document, the brief that Tom Crone prepared for Colin Myler for the meeting on 27 May? Do you think that should be released to the Committee? There’s no reason why it couldn’t be.

Julian Pike: No.

Q1216 Mr Watson: Regardless of what George Davies asked you for-£250,000-had the "for Neville" transcript not existed, what would you advise them to settle for?

Julian Pike: Had it not existed, we might well have been applying to strike them out, so we wouldn’t have been paying them anything.

Q1217 Mr Watson: So in that sense, the 250K asked was irrelevant.

Julian Pike: No, it wasn’t irrelevant, in the sense that we knew that that set the level of Gordon Taylor’s expectation.

Q1218 Mr Watson: But that’s immaterial to you, isn’t it? You’ve got a value on-

Julian Pike: No, it’s not immaterial, because you know you can’t settle the case afterwards, once he gets the evidence, for less than that sum. It’s simply not doable.

Q1219 Mr Watson: But if the evidence didn’t exist, you would have laughed at a request for £250,000.

Julian Pike: Yes.

Q1220 Mr Watson: Finally, the net effect of this settlement and the confidentiality clause was that a crime was not made public. Do you think that there was a cover-up?

Julian Pike: No. Bear in mind where the document came from. It came from the police, so the police had the document. There is no question of a cover-up whatsoever.

Q1221 Paul Farrelly: I am just imagining headline that says, "Queen’s solicitors knew News of the World was lying to Parliament and did nothing about it". Do you think that that reflects well or badly on Farrer’s as a firm?

Julian Pike: I have dealt with this already. We have obligations to the client we are acting for. I am not-

Q1222 Paul Farrelly: Do you think it reflects well or badly?

Julian Pike: That sort of headline is obviously not ideal.

Chair: And the last question.

Q1223 Philip Davies: Just on the timeline, I have been reading Farrer’s letter to the Committee again. There is just one thing. There seems to be a subtle shift in the letter from when you were advising News Group Newspapers what to do to when they started telling you what to do. The letter starts off saying that you advised News Group Newspapers to increase the offer to £150,000 plus costs. Then you got the advice that said that it would be a maximum of £250,000 and that the counsel had suggested £250,000. The next part of the letter says: "The Firm was instructed to increase the…offer to £350,000." At what point did you stop advising News Group newspapers what to offer and it started to tell you what to offer?

Julian Pike: It doesn’t quite work like that. They were given advice that £250,000 was the likely top amount that might be awarded. As I said earlier, it is quite common that what you do is you add more on top of what you think you might-

Q1224 Philip Davies: But did you advise them to offer £350,000?

Julian Pike: No. As the letter says, we were instructed.

Q1225 Philip Davies: So at what point were they not seeking your advice? At what point did they start telling you, "This is what you should offer"?

Julian Pike: Having given the advice that the case might be worth up to £250,000, we were instructed to offer £350,000.

Q1226 Philip Davies: Do you know what date that was-the date that you were instructed to increase the offer to £350,000?

Julian Pike: It was 3 June 2008.

Philip Davies: So it was 3 June when you were instructed to offer £350,000.

Julian Pike: Yes.

Chair: Right. I think we have no more questions. Thank you very much.

Witness: Mark Lewis, Partner, Taylor Hampton Solicitors, gave evidence.

Chair: For the second part of this morning’s session, may I welcome Mark Lewis? Louise Mensch is going to start.

Q1227 Louise Mensch: Mr Lewis, I think you were sitting in the public gallery in the previous evidence session, so you won’t be surprised if I open by asking you what evidence you have for your assertion to this Committee that you were told by Mr Pike that you were negotiating with Murdoch. You have heard him very flatly deny that. Do you have an attendance note of your meeting in which you recorded that you were negotiating with Murdoch? What is your evidence for making that claim?

Mark Lewis: My evidence is that I remember him saying it. I don’t have any attendance notes because I am no longer at George Davies. I lost my job in 2009, and so I have neither the file nor the permission of Gordon Taylor. But if someone says to you, when you are talking to them, "You are negotiating with Murdoch", you remember them saying it. He didn’t say, "You’re negotiating with Rupert Murdoch", nor did he say, "You’re negotiating with James Murdoch", but it is a memorable statement. When I heard Julian Pike give evidence now, it was entirely consistent with what was happening and what I was being told.

Putting it in context, the two of us were on very amicable terms-albeit opponents in litigation-and we were having a conversation where he made a throwaway remark. When we had gone past the £250,000 barrier, we had the conversation where he said, "You’re negotiating with Murdoch." It was an achievement for me to know that I had gone to a level that, he seemed to suggest, was not just being dealt with by the lawyers. He has confirmed to you that the instructions had to have come from a board member, and that board member happened to be James Murdoch in those times.

Q1228 Louise Mensch: He has been very clear to us in his written and oral evidence that he never used that phrase at all, and would never have used it. You have just said that you do not have the permission of Gordon Taylor to reveal your attendance notes. Have you not just breached legal professional privilege if you do not have the permission of Gordon Taylor to assert that you were told that you were negotiating with Murdoch? Does your lawyer-client privilege expire because you were fired by the firm in question?

Mark Lewis: I am sorry. I think that was three questions.

Q1229 Louise Mensch: They all relate to the same things, though. Have you just breached professional privilege by saying that you were told you were negotiating with Murdoch if, as you said in your previous answer, you do not have Gordon Taylor’s permission to reveal the attendance notes?

Mark Lewis: I do not think, if you check the record, I said that I did not have permission to reveal the attendance notes; I said that I did not have the attendance notes. I do not consider that I breached professional privilege at all.

Q1230 Louise Mensch: You did just say that you do not have Gordon Taylor’s permission. Do you have Gordon Taylor’s permission to discuss what was said to you in those negotiations or don’t you?

Mark Lewis: I have not got his permission to hand over an attendance note, but I think I am entitled to say that I had a conversation and that this is what was discussed. You asked me if I had breached professional privilege, and I do not consider that I did breach professional privilege.

Q1231 Louise Mensch: Why did you say, "I don’t have Gordon Taylor’s permission"?

Mark Lewis: Because you asked me a question, and I have not got his permission to hand a document to you.

Q1232 Louise Mensch: You are talking about the content of what would have been in an attendance note. You do not have the physical attendance note, but you can tell us what you would have put in the attendance note.

Mark Lewis: Sorry?

Louise Mensch: Do you not need your client’s permission to reveal what was said at that meeting?

Mark Lewis: It was not a meeting; it was a telephone conversation. I do not think I need specific permission to talk about a conversation that I had.

Q1233 Louise Mensch: Right, so you do not feel that you need your client’s permission to discuss negotiations that were held in the context of settling his case. You have said that the statement was memorable, that it stuck in your mind and that it was important. You do not have the attendance notes, because they are held by the firm you were with, which fired you. Did you write this phrase down in the attendance notes if it was so memorable?

Mark Lewis: Two things. They did not fire me; they gave me an ultimatum as to whether or not I would act for other people in regards to phone hacking, so it is slightly different from being fired. I do not recall whether I wrote the phrase down. I think it is very unlikely, because I do not actually have a right hand that writes things down. I am right-handed. I remember things, and I occasionally type things with my left hand, but I do not actually write.

Q1234 Louise Mensch: Whether you physically write them, sir, or type them is surely entirely irrelevant. If this was such a memorable thing to be said, did you record it in an attendance note of the conversation for purposes of billing or to keep your records of the case?

Mark Lewis: I would have made a very short note as to the amount of time I had spent on something. Whether or not it went further than that, I certainly recall that statement being made to me. I am adamant that that statement was made to me, and I am telling you that that statement was made to me.

Q1235 Louise Mensch: In your letter to the Committee, you allege, "In that context it becomes relevant that during the negotiations Julian Pike said to me ‘you are negotiating with Murdoch’. I did not know whether he meant Rupert Murdoch or James Murdoch…but it seems likely that the reference was to James." You suggest that News Group should "give permission to Farrer & Co to provide copies of their ‘file/attendance notes’ showing who they got instructions from". You are saying that Farrer should provide the Committee with a copy of its attendance notes of the meeting in question, but you have no recollection of whether you recorded this key piece of information in your own attendance notes.

Mark Lewis: That is a peculiarity of me. I do not make attendance notes as thoroughly as other lawyers do, because I have one hand that does not work. That is how it works; I work with my brain and remember things, because I have to cope with a certain disability.

Q1236 Louise Mensch: Mr Pike has said very clearly that he did not say this and just would not say it; it was not part of the negotiations, and he totally contradicts your account, so you are basing it on an assertion and nothing else. Apart from Julian Pike, at the firm, who else did you personally speak to with regards to the Gordon Taylor settlement? Did you speak directly to executives at News International? Were your negotiations totally with Farrer’s?

Mark Lewis: No, no. I will take that twofold. Internally in George Davies, the person who was assisting me on the case was Charlotte Harris. I discussed that aspect with Charlotte Harris. We were working as a team at that stage. In terms of my physical conversation, it was only with Julian Pike. But if we go back to the very beginning-this might set it in context for you-when I sent the initial letter of claim for Gordon Taylor I got a phone call from Julian Pike asking whether it would be in order for Tom Crone to come and see me. Although Tom Crone was a client, it was his decision that I could speak to his client directly. Professional etiquette is such that if you are speaking to a solicitor obviously you don’t speak to their client directly-

Q1237 Louise Mensch: But Mr Crone is a lawyer, so I can see why News International would be perfectly happy for him to enter into discussions with you. Apart from-

Mark Lewis: Sorry, I was just explaining to you. He was content for that to happen. Tom Crone came to see me in Manchester. That was the giveaway-that there was something more to it-and that is what led to the £250,000 offer. By way of explanation, I had at that stage been doing the job for 17 years. I had had numerous negotiations with Tom Crone over that period, and he had never once left Wapping. All of a sudden he was getting on a train to come and see me in Manchester. I knew that there was something more to it. When Julian Pike was talking about part 36 offers, there is a significant-

Q1238 Louise Mensch: Can I stop you for a second, Mr Lewis? You are digressing from my question massively. My question is: who did you speak to at Farrer’s or at News International? Did you speak to anyone other than Tom Crone or Farrer’s? Did you ever negotiate yourself, or have any discussions, with James Murdoch? I am asking you, in the context of your settlement negotiation-we can get on to that; it is very interesting and we will get onto it-who precisely you dealt with.

Mark Lewis: I answered that question. I dealt with Julian Pike and I had a meeting with Tom Crone.

Q1239 Louise Mensch: And no one else? That is the missing part-no one else at News International?

Mark Lewis: My letter does not say that I dealt with anyone else. Why would Julian Pike have said, "You’re negotiating with Murdoch," if I had been sitting face to face with James Murdoch, or if I had met or spoken to James Murdoch?

Q1240 Louise Mensch: He might not have discussed the terms of the negotiation. Just to clarify, you spoke only to Farrer’s, and at News International the only person you spoke to was Tom Crone. Is that right?

Mark Lewis: Even more specific: only Julian Pike and Tom Crone.

Q1241 Louise Mensch: Only Julian Pike and Tom Crone. Thank you very much. You infer that it is very important that Mr Crone came to see you to negotiate personally this part of the settlement. Did you ever say to him, or to anyone else, that you were negotiating with Murdoch, or that you had been told by Farrer’s that you were negotiating with Murdoch? Did you say to Mr Crone, "Listen, you might as well give it up because I’ve been told at this stage that I’m negotiating with Murdoch. So, give my client what he wants"? Did you say anything of that sort?

Mark Lewis: You are now jumping ahead-

Louise Mensch: I am asking you a question, sir. I do not mind about the sequence of events. I would like to know whether you ever made reference to the statement that you were negotiating with Murdoch to anyone.

Mark Lewis: Please let me answer. The Tom Crone visit to Manchester was much earlier. It was in 2007. 2008 was the date of the conversation: "You’re negotiating with Murdoch." As I indicated to you before-as I answered the question-that conversation was relayed by me to Charlotte Harris.

Q1242 Louise Mensch: Yes, but Charlotte Harris is someone at your own firm.

Mark Lewis: No.

Q1243 Louise Mensch: Didn’t you say that she was a partner who helped you or something?

Mark Lewis: She was an associate at the time.

Q1244 Louise Mensch: At your firm. I am interested in whether you ever used it in your negotiations, or in anything subsequent to that, with the other side rather than with your own firm.

Mark Lewis: It wasn’t that type of conversation. When I had made the offer to settle the case, as has been reported, of £1 million at that time, and they had made the offers that Julian Pike had gone through in sequences-£50,000 and going up in stages-at some point in one of those conversations he said, "You can have the £250,000 that you asked for initially," and I said, "That was before the case had started." When we got beyond that, there were telephonic negotiations. There was a part 36 offer of £350,000. Oddly enough, £500,000, which apparently is the limit, was rejected as an offer. So, notwithstanding Julian Pike telling the Committee that he could have settled for £500,000, he didn’t settle for £500,000. I was instructed to settle at the level I settled at, but during the course of those negotiations on the part 36 offer of £350,000 I was told by Julian Pike that I was negotiating with Murdoch.

Before you stopped me, the answer I was giving in respect of part 36 is very important, because part 36 has significant consequences for court cases. In part 36-if you fail to beat, as lawyers would call it, a part 36 offer-your client would end up paying the costs. If there had been a part 36 offer of £25,000 in that case, it would have had to have been accepted. The risk of fighting on would have been too high for Gordon Taylor, because he could well have won the case while receiving only £25,000 or less, and, therefore, he would have had to settle. A part 36 offer of £350,000 would have been impossible to beat. The negotiations at that point were nothing to do with part 36, because part 36 would have trounced us at £350,000. The negotiations at that point were, "How much money can we get so that the Gordon Taylor settlement isn’t disclosed?" There was a difficulty for Farrer, Julian Pike, et cetera, because they had wrongly assumed that the settlement of the Gordon Taylor case ended everything and that a lid had been put on it. That is, I think, quite important for you.

After the case ended, Julian Pike telephoned me and said, "Tom Crone would like to meet you for lunch-with me. Next time you are in London, phone us up and we’ll arrange the lunch." I said that I was in London on whatever day it was, and Julian Pike said that he could not make it. I went out for lunch with Tom Crone. We met at El Vino wine bar and then went to a restaurant on Fetter lane. At the end of that, after he paid the bill, I took great pleasure in watching him go pale when I told him that I had two other phone hacking cases, because the confidentiality in respect of the Gordon Taylor settlement did not affect my doing other cases. I asked whether I should write to him or to Julian Pike at Farrer’s, and he said, "Write to Julian Pike at Farrer’s."

There is some significance to that, because it completely undermines the explanation that Julian Pike has given you on the £350,000 or £425,000 being before the Mosley judgment. The second case was the Joanne Armstrong case, which settled for £100.000 for an unpublished story. That settlement was after Mosley, so there is no doubt that they knew that somebody could get £60,000 for a privacy action involving lots of publication, lots of videos, internet access, et cetera, and they still paid a lot more.

Louise Mensch: Thank you for your very full answer. I am sure that colleagues want to get in, so my next question will be brief. You heard the Chairman’s previous question-

Chair: I want to come on to that later.

Q1245 Paul Farrelly: I have three opening questions before, hopefully, I come in later following my colleagues’ questioning. When you last came before the Committee, Mr Lewis, you related to us another chance remark allegedly made by Detective Sergeant Maberly outside the court. I think the phrase was, "This could run to thousands," or, "There could be thousands of people or messages involved." At the time, the News of the World was saying that there was only one rogue reporter, which we know now was a lie-it knew it was a lie-and, at the time, the police were saying there was just a handful of victims. In the meantime, you have had an apology and damages from the chair of the Press Complaints Commission, and Operation Weeting is employing vast police resources and is contacting all the victims and potential victims. You have been vindicated, haven’t you?

Mark Lewis: Well, my action is still going on. Look, it is quite clear that most people would understand that when I came before the Committee in 2009, I relayed this conversation that I had had with DS Maberly, as he then was, about him telling me that there were 6,000 victims but "You don’t need all the information; we will give you enough to hang them." Baroness Buscombe, who was then, and probably still is, chairperson or chairman of the Press Complaints Commission made a speech to the Society of Editors that suggested that I had misled this Committee-had lied to this Committee. That was on the basis of information that was wrongly given to her, or wrong information that was given to her by the Metropolitan police, who are part of the lie and cover-up. I am sorry for talking in terms of conspiracy theories, or like a conspiracy theory, but sometimes there are conspiracies, and there appears to have been a conspiracy there.

I still have an action against the Metropolitan police. The Metropolitan police are still justifying the position that, they say, the conversation as regards the number of victims-6,000 victims-did not happen, although I understand that the police’s barrister confirmed in court last week, in respect of the judicial review, that there were 6,500 names. I hope to be vindicated, but not yet.

Q1246 Paul Farrelly: I have two more quick opening questions. Do you feel that had you not advised Gordon Taylor and picked up the case, this whole affair might not have been exposed?

Mark Lewis: The best words on that were Tom Crone’s when he came to Manchester. He started the meeting with me with the phrase, "We thought this had all gone away." It obviously had not gone away. I, for whatever reason, worked out what had happened, because I had had a claim from Gordon Taylor’s assistant, Joanne Armstrong, a year earlier. After there had been a wrong story-it was completely wrong-they said that there had been proper journalistic inquiries. When I saw about Mulcaire and Goodman, I realised that the "proper journalistic inquiries" was not true and that, in fact, there had been phone hacking.

That is how all the phone hacking cases started. Look, the confidentiality agreement between Gordon Taylor and News Group was misunderstood, I think, by Farrer’s and Julian Pike. That was confidential, but the confidentiality did not extend to before there was a confidentiality agreement and the court file was sealed. The court file was open; it was open for any journalist to go in and see that News of the World and News Group newspapers were being sued. I am sure that the confidentiality agreement was effectively locking the stable door after the horse had bolted; that is what happened.

I suspect that The Guardian and Nick Davies already knew about this before there had been any settlement. I am sure that is how it came out. Yes, I would like to take some credit, but I do not really think it is my credit for uncovering the scandal. It is their own fault for creating the scandal in the first place by trying to do something that could not be done.

Q1247 Paul Farrelly: This is my final question of my initial three. This all goes to the issue of your credibility as a witness. Do you feel that if you had not been so relentless in your pursuit of this, or had not got a reputation for pursuing this when advising Milly Dowler’s family, that the News of the World might still be carrying on now and employing some of the people who have since been arrested?

Mark Lewis: I have no doubt-we know; we have heard from Julian Pike-that information, instructions, and a report was given that there were at least three journalists, and yet they came before this Committee and said that there is this "rogue reporter" defence. The stance taken by News of the World on all these cases has moved from there being one rogue reporter-Clive Goodman, the royal correspondent-and Glenn Mulcaire, who was not really anything to do with it, to an attempt to present it as being about people who have no right to any sympathy, such as politicians, celebrities or sportspeople. It was only after the Milly Dowler case, which exposed everything, that the lie that we were being told by the News of the World and other newspapers-that was the scandal; it was a cover-up by all the newspapers about what was happening-came out.

Q1248 Chair: On your lunch with Tom Crone, you waited until he paid the bill before telling him that there were other cases coming along. You said there were two other cases. One was that of Joanne Armstrong, but who was the other one?

Mark Lewis: The other one I have never, ever disclosed, and I cannot do so because of client confidentiality. Last time I gave evidence, I made it clear that there were three constraints: I could not discuss anything that was not in the public domain because of client confidentiality; I could not discuss any court documents that were not in the public domain; and I know of other documents-

Q1249 Chair: Is the case of the third individual ongoing?

Mark Lewis: No. In the third case, I was under threat of an injunction-

Chair: No, the third case that you referred to.

Mark Lewis: No, it is settled.

Q1250 Chair: And the name has never been mentioned?

Mark Lewis: The name has never come out. Another aspect of when I gave evidence last time is that I was under threat of an injunction from News of the World, Farrer & Co. and Julian Pike.

Q1251 Chair: Which was never actually implemented.

Mark Lewis: I never heard anything more after I had given evidence to the Committee.

Q1252 Chair: Jo Armstrong was at the other end of the telephone from Gordon Taylor, so the transcript that they had recorded the conversation between Gordon Taylor and Jo Armstrong. It should not have taken a genius to work out that if Gordon Taylor had a case, Jo Armstrong also did. Had that not occurred to Tom Crone?

Mark Lewis: I could not comment as to whether or not Tom Crone or Julian Pike are geniuses, but I understand why such an observation might be made, and that it would not take a genius to work that out. When I mentioned to Tom Crone that there were other cases, Julian Pike phoned me up and said, "You can’t act. This is not something you can do," and he threatened that I was not able to act. My answer to that was, "Yes, I am able to act, but if you think I can’t, then I will pass it to another firm of solicitors, because the case will not disappear and the clients will be represented. If you want another solicitor to know about this, fine." At that point he said, "You know what, you can act." And I did act.

Q1253 Chair: Basically, you responded to the threat of an injunction by saying, "Okay, I’ll go and tell somebody else about it."

Mark Lewis: Yes. I said I would tell the client that I could not act, and that they should go and get another solicitor.

Q1254 Mr Watson: We now understand from the disclosure that took place after you last gave evidence that the Mulcaire file lists a target individual and the people in their social circle below that-essentially, we believe, where they attempted to paint a picture of the individual they were trying to get a story about. In the disclosure, that means that Gordon Taylor was given a list of people who were also potential hacking victims. Did you advise him at the time that he should contact them, so that people might know that a crime had taken place and that their privacy had been invaded without their knowledge?

Mark Lewis: Client confidentiality would stop me from saying what advice I gave to a client. It might be inferred that, obviously, a solicitor would tell a client all about their case and how to deal with it on the existing evidence. Joanne Armstrong lost her job at the PFA. She is pursuing a claim because the PFA, or Gordon Taylor, is alleging that she is using PFA information that she obtained as an in-house lawyer. She has got to deal with that, because Gordon Taylor had Joanne Armstrong in a meeting and she would have seen something. You would have to ask Gordon Taylor what he did or did not instruct in respect of notifying other victims.

Q1255 Mr Watson: Do you know whether the people on the disclosure file from Taylor were members of the PFA?

Mark Lewis: I actually do not know who is and who is not a member of the PFA. I suspect, looking back at it, that some of them would be players or former players who probably would be entitled to be members of the PFA, while others, who were not footballers, would not be members of the PFA.

Q1256 Mr Watson: Okay. It has been reported that you are representing hacking victims in the United States. You are taking legal action in the United States. Can you explain what that is about?

Mark Lewis: There are two aspects. There are those people who are or were in America at the time they were hacked and, because of the differences in the legal systems, private claims are being considered in respect of those individuals. There is also a separate side as to whether actions can be taken as a group to seek compulsion of various individuals to give depositions, as they call them in America, about the knowledge of News Corporation or News Corporation executives on the level of the cover-up of the actual activities.

Q1257 Mr Watson: Let me just make this clear: you are aware of clients where the evidence suggests that they were hacked while in the United States?

Mark Lewis: Those are my instructions.

Q1258 Mr Watson: Would you say that that is the sort of thing that the directors of the company should raise at the News Corp AGM on Friday morning?

Mark Lewis: Well, it is not for me to advise the directors of News Corp on what they should raise.

Mr Watson: Thank you.

Q1259 Damian Collins: I want to go over some of the ground on the "for Neville" e-mail that I asked Mr Pike about. You referred to Tom Crone coming to Manchester to see you. When did that meeting take place?

Mark Lewis: That was at the very beginning of the case, when a letter had been passed to Farrer. Farrer thought that I had gone away, and then proceedings were issued. Julian Pike telephoned me and asked whether Tom Crone could come up. It was Tom Crone travelling that was the big clue that there was something more to this. The most obvious thing to do would have been to pay £12,000 or so to settle without any admission of liability, to say that the phone was not hacked. The fact that Tom Crone came up led to that meeting where that request was put forward. I think that that was early 2007-maybe March or April.

Q1260 Damian Collins: So you interpreted him coming up as evidence that they were taking it very seriously.

Mark Lewis: He started that meeting by saying, "We thought it had all gone away", because there had been the prosecution of Clive Goodman on the royals. No one had linked the News of the World to any of the non-royal victims. It would have just been Glenn Mulcaire, the investigator whom they had nothing to do with.

Q1261 Damian Collins: Farrer said, as you will have heard, that it was aware of the potential existence of this documentary evidence, which we now know as the "for Neville" e-mail, on 1 November, from a letter that it had from the Metropolitan police. When were you first aware of it?

Mark Lewis: Well, they did not tell me. I would not expect them to have necessarily told me. I know that there were discussions with Julian Pike on professional duties. The professional duties of solicitors are such that we do not have a duty to notify the police. In respect of Julian Pike, we do not tell the police about our clients, except for money laundering, which we have an obligation to report.

Q1262 Damian Collins: Sure. It must have come from the police to Farrer.

Mark Lewis: They did not tell me. At the same time, what they had not been aware of at Farrer was that I was making this application for non-party disclosure, which we did not have to notify Farrer of, so it was us against the Metropolitan police to get disclosure of the documents to show what had happened. Operation Weeting, as you are familiar with, is employing innumerable officers to go through documents, whereas, at that time, there were a handful of people-5 or 6 or 8-who had been affected by phone hacking. As Julian Pike said, because we did not have any evidence, we were presenting the case on an inferential basis, and we wanted to show all the illegality. Naively, we were saying that we wanted everything from the Metropolitan police.

Q1263 Damian Collins: Sure. When did you make that application?

Mark Lewis: Probably towards the end of 2007. I think we got the order in December 2007, and the documents were provided at the end of 2007 or the beginning of 2008.

Q1264 Damian Collins: I suppose the timing might be interesting, because if Farrer wrote to the Metropolitan police on 20 September and did not get a reply until 1 November, did the Metropolitan police reply to the letter after you had made your application for the documents, thereby alerting them to the existence of this document?

Mark Lewis: I honestly do not know. Until this evidence session, I had no idea that Farrer had also applied for the documentation.

Q1265 Damian Collins: When you made your application, you did not know what the Metropolitan police had; you just wanted to see what they had in case there was anything that would be helpful to your client’s case.

Mark Lewis: We wanted as much as possible to back up this inference, for a civil case, that News International was responsible for some unlawful conduct.

Q1266 Damian Collins: Finally, what sort of contact was there between you and Tom Crone from towards the end of 2007 up to April 2008, when they had seen the transcript?

Mark Lewis: None. There was the first meeting, when he got the train. It was not a very long meeting. I asked for £250,000, and he grabbed his hat and coat and went back to London. I do not think that he was in my office for more than 20 minutes. The meeting went something like this: Tom Crone said, "I’ve asked all the journalists at the News of the World-except for one or two who have left-and they all tell me that they didn’t do it. They have not phone-hacked," and I said, "I believe you, Tom. I absolutely believe you. I don’t believe them, but I believe you." That was my sense of humour. I drew him in and saw that he was feeling quite good when he thought that he had sold me a dummy until I told him that I did not believe them.

What he should have done is said, "What are you talking about-£250,000?" I had asked for £250,000. He should have said, "£15,000 is all you’re having," or "£12,000 is all you’re having." I would then have had to advise my client, but he did not do that; he just, as I said, grabbed his coat and hat and went and got the train back to London. We carried on with the case. The defence was served without prejudice to a strike-out application, because it was going to put forward that there was no evidence, and then we sought non-party disclosure from the Metropolitan police, which is what uncovered this.

Q1267 Damian Collins: There was no other discussion about settlement at all until after the "for Neville" e-mail came to light?

Mark Lewis: No, none at all. They were so confident about their defence in the case that they did not think of making a part 36 offer. We then got the disclosure from the Metropolitan police. It did not just include the "for Neville" e-mail as a relevant document; there were numerous other documents, some more important than others. One was a CD of a recording of Glenn Mulcaire telling another reporter how to hack a phone. That reporter has been put forward as being Raoul Simons, but Glenn Mulcaire had a strong cockney or south-east accent, and it sounded like "Rile" on the recording: "Oh hello Rile, this is how you hack a phone", blah, blah, blah, and then something about Tottenham Hotspur football club. "Rile" turns out to have been Raoul Simons. He now works for The Times, but at that point in time he was working for the Evening Standard, which was then owned by Associated.

Now, rather than the News of the World or Farrer saying, "You’re suing the wrong person. Look, you’ve got the recording and it’s actually the wrong company. You’re suing News of the World and News Group Newspapers, but you should be suing the Standard or Associated"-we went back to court to get an order to ask who "Rile" was, and that order was never complied with; it was a condition of negotiations that the order would never be complied with, but an order was made by a master to provide that information-negotiations started.

All of a sudden, a fax was passed to me that said that there was an offer of £50,000, which was alluded to by Julian Pike before. Then there was this offer of £150,000. Then there was a telephone conversation, which Julian Pike did not refer to, in which they said, "All right then, you can have the £250,000 that you asked for." I said, "That was before we started the case." They carried on negotiating. They should not have negotiated like that. There was no reason to; it is illogical. One of the members of the Committee-it might have been you-said, "If the first offer had been £1 million, would they have carried on negotiating?" The idea that the parameters for negotiations were set by what I had asked for in the first place is just nonsense. It is quite conceivable that I could have been wrong. Of course I was wrong, in terms of the measure of damages for a privacy action for something that had not been published. There was no way that that case was worth that amount, but I was negotiating, and if the other side wanted to pay that amount of money-

Damian Collins: You are going to help them out.

Mark Lewis: Of course. That is my job as a lawyer: to negotiate as best I can. Where they made the mistake is that they thought that that negotiation for Gordon Taylor would be the end of everything. That is why they took me for lunch. They thought that it was all over-done and dusted-and that "You did a good job and nobody else needs to sue." When Gordon Taylor was named, four other people were named as non-royal victims. Max Clifford did not know about it. His lawyers had not told him about it at that time. Sky Andrew had not been told. Elle Macpherson has never brought a claim, nor has Simon Hughes. They did not know about the case. That is why I thought that they wanted to hush it up. There were at least four other people who they didn’t want to bring claims and do the same. That is why they paid over the odds. It is just incredible that you would pay. You heard the answer-£30,000 or £40,000 for a published story, for a breach of privacy, but with this unpublished story, we carried on negotiating to more than £400,000. It wasn’t just over £400,000; it was also payment of my costs.

Q1268 Damian Collins: Sorry to interrupt. Thank you for what is an illuminating and very full answer. What they were paying for was confidentiality, so that other people would not come forward and seek similar amounts.

Mark Lewis: Absolutely. They did not want it to get out. They had paid my costs in full. They didn’t knock a penny off. That is unheard of in litigation. They did not knock a penny off my costs. I asked for a figure and they paid it in full, every single penny.

Q1269 Paul Farrelly: Mr Lewis, what you said about your former client, Gordon Taylor in the PFA, strikes me as absolutely disgraceful. He took all the money and ran, as it were. He possibly let his members down by agreeing to such confidentiality and then sacked Jo Armstrong for suing. I hope the PFA members will take note of that in the way that that organisation conducts itself.

I want to come on to our difficulty. Yet again we are going to produce a report-hopefully shortly, and hopefully our final one-and we are in a situation where we do not know as much as you. We certainly do not know as much as Judge Vos and all the other lawyers. There are caches of documents that have been produced under disclosure in the cases that are going before the courts. Lots of them are confidential at the moment. Without breaching confidentiality, could you just describe to us the extent of the documents that have been disclosed, so that we are less in the dark?

Mark Lewis: I am not sure how far I can go.

Q1270 Paul Farrelly: Be as general as you like, but give us an idea.

Mark Lewis: All I can say is that there are claimant lawyers who have given undertakings to the court in respect of disclosure of documents and we must abide by those undertakings. Whether or not there was one document, or even 100,000 documents, we would not be allowed to deal with that. There is a separate inquiry taking place under Lord Justice Leveson, and I suspect that he will report on the volume, or otherwise, of the documentary evidence and who knew what at that particular time.

Q1271 Paul Farrelly: As part of all the documents that have been produced under disclosure, are there any documents that are reports by-however you call them-private investigators, inquiry agents and freelance journalists doing a job for News of the World or from Mr Crone, who referred to this? Are there any documents where people who might have been making News International’s life difficult have been targeted?

Mark Lewis: I am aware that there has been some sort of investigation and following of me. That is in the hands of the police. I have pursued that with the police and also pursued a civil claim against News International to say that it has infringed my privacy. Apparently it has hacked my phone. I was told that my phone had been hacked. It shouldn’t have happened. It was before the Dowler situation, around December 2010 and January 2011, that my phone apparently was hacked and I was followed. There has been a report-I am waiting to see a copy of that-the police investigation and my civil claim.

Q1272 Paul Farrelly: You’ve filed a claim, have you?

Mark Lewis: No. I’ve sent a letter off to News International. I am waiting for its response to answer, "What have you got and why?"

Q1273 Paul Farrelly: Presumably, if you file a claim, the statement of claim will be a public document.

Mark Lewis: Unless a court orders otherwise. There is no aspect of privacy that I am concerned about. The report that I had seen, which might or might not be the right one, suggests that the reason that I am doing this is because I am dying. Whoever it was who followed me and saw me limp and not have a right-hand side that works has wrongly assumed that I have some sort of fatal illness. Well, I have a fatal illness-it’s called life, and I hope that I am around for another 60 or 70 years. What I have is multiple sclerosis, and that is not a secret. I do my job as well as I can. Unfortunately I am not able to take notes, as I’d like to be able to, but I work around that.

Paul Farrelly: Are you aware of any other people who may have made their life difficult, apart from yourself, who have been targeted in a similar way?

Q1274 Chair: Are these matters subject to police investigation at the moment?

Mark Lewis: I’ve made a complaint to the police.

Chair: I don’t think we should proceed with this matter.

Paul Farrelly: Feel free to answer.

Chair: No, don’t feel free to answer. If these matters are subject to police investigation, we will not pursue it.

Q1275 Paul Farrelly: Regarding all the documents that have been disclosed, from your experience, are you aware of any other accessing of information that may have been illegal apart from phone hacking? Is phone hacking the tip of an iceberg?

Mark Lewis: I am acting for other people who have complaints. What has happened is that information has been obtained. Yes, it was the tip of the iceberg, but it was sort of known about that there were other activities, in the Information Commissioner’s report, "What price privacy?". We now know about obtaining private information such as phone bills and medical records.

Q1276 Paul Farrelly: That’s blagging. What about computer hacking or reading people’s e-mails?

Mark Lewis: It seems that voice mail interception or phone hacking is old hat and that the thing to do now with the inquiry agents is to obtain information by way of e-mails. As I understand the technology, one plants a Trojan in someone’s computer by sending them an e-mail that looks innocuous, which then pinches all the e-mails sent out or received and sends them to someone else. I am pursuing a claim. Mr Justice Ross has ruled that it is not going to be part of the voice mail interception claims for a former member of military intelligence, who was subject to, shall we say, a Trojan plant. We know that. That is also subject to a police investigation, so I suppose we have to be very careful, but there is a civil claim for that.

Q1277 Paul Farrelly: But, in general, by persons acting on behalf of the News of the World and News International or-

Mark Lewis: I think the police have gone beyond scoping an investigation into another inquiry agent in relation to work for not just News International newspapers but titles that belong to other newspapers.

Paul Farrelly: I just wanted, if I may-

Chair: I do not want to pursue this line any further.

Dr Coffey: Mr Farrelly, the Chair does not want you to, so I can ask a question.

Chair: Hold on a sec. Paul, you have a final question in relation to the subject you are pursuing, but I do not wish to go into the area of police investigations.

Q1278 Paul Farrelly: I have two questions, Chair, and then I will finish.

With respect to Glenn Mulcaire, we had an admission from James and Rupert Murdoch that they were, indeed, paying his legal fees and that has stopped, and they insist that that is still the case. In your experience, from the claims that you are pursuing, who will pay any damages awarded against Glenn Mulcaire?

Mark Lewis: Certainly in the past, in the experience that I have of cases, News Group Newspapers-the News of the World-has paid the damages and paid the costs rather than Glenn Mulcaire. I think the position regarding Glenn Mulcaire is as follows: his funding of his legal costs by News Group has ended, although he is taking legal action against News Group Newspapers. His case is that there is an indemnity in respect of the payment of his legal costs, and News Group is saying that that indemnity does not apply.

Q1279 Paul Farrelly: Finally-again, down to your credibility as a witness-if you became aware that a client had lied to a court or to Parliament, what would you feel obliged to do professionally?

Mark Lewis: It is a different matter. I was listening to the answer that was given. The answer is actually in The Guide to the Professional Conduct of Solicitors. If you have a client who lies to a court, and you are aware of his lying to a court, you have to stop acting. It is not "We might stop acting", as Mr Pike said; you have to stop acting. You either have to say to the client to tell the court the truth, or you have to stop acting.

The case on that is that, in order to avoid being sentenced on the basis of previous convictions, somebody who went into a magistrates court gave a false name. The solicitor knew it was a false name, because he had acted for that person before. Because the solicitor carried on acting in those circumstances, after he had given a false name, and allowed that to happen, the solicitor got struck off. That is the position.

As regards Parliament, it is a slightly different aspect, but I would expect that if you have a client who lies to Parliament and you know that they have lied to Parliament, you have to be absolutely 100% saying to that client, "You have just lied to Parliament." Oddly enough-you talked about Baroness Buscombe before-her libel against me was saying that I had lied to Parliament last time. I had not lied to Parliament. I think everybody knows that I did not lie to Parliament but, between them, the Metropolitan police and the Press Complaints Commission like to give the view that I lied to Parliament.

It is the same with James Murdoch. I think James Murdoch would like to give you the impression that he is mildly incompetent rather than thoroughly dishonest, but he has been dishonest to you if he says he did not know about the settlement and did not know the information, because-

Chair: Okay, you have given a fairly full answer.

Q1280 Dr Coffey: May I go back to when you became aware of the "for Neville" e-mail? The story in my head is that you applied for the disclosure order. What triggered you to apply for that disclosure order?

Mark Lewis: We had to do it, because the case that we had brought for Gordon Taylor against News Group Newspapers was based on inference; we did not have any documentary evidence.

Q1281 Dr Coffey: What triggered you to think that the police had evidence?

Mark Lewis: No, we knew the police-

Q1282 1283 Dr Coffey: You knew the police did?

Mark Lewis: We knew the police had, because the police had prosecuted Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman, and we were pursuing this inferential case. For a civil case you have to show things on the balance of probabilities-in other words, that it is more likely than not, so we wanted to show that News of the World had done things that were improper and therefore we could present to the court, "Look, in assessing whether it is more likely than not that they had broken the law, look at all these other things that they have done".

Q1284 Dr Coffey: I heard what you said earlier that the Tom Crone visit was instrumental in your mind, and led to you thinking, "This is serious, we are on to something", because they would never otherwise leave Wapping and just say, "Here is a cheque for £10,000, go away". So, your application for disclosure was after that meeting.

Mark Lewis: It was after that.

Q1285 Dr Coffey: So you met Tom Crone in March or April. You applied in December.

Mark Lewis: Because the case had started. The defence was put in and then we made the application. They thought we had gone away.

Dr Coffey: I am just trying to clarify the position.

Mark Lewis: Just to go through the sequence of-

Q1286 Dr Coffey: One final question, because I am afraid I have to go a meeting that I have organised. Would you have applied for the third party disclosure if Tom Crone had not visited you?

Mark Lewis: Yes.

Dr Coffey: You would have done.

Mark Lewis: It was the tactic of the case.

Dr Coffey: That is all I need to know for my story.

Q1287 Chair: I want to move on to the other area, because time is running out. Did you agree with Julian Pike that The Guardian’s publication of the terms of the settlement represented a serious breach of the confidentiality agreement?

Mark Lewis: I think you have to look at it two ways. I am not sure that one can ever have confidence in something that is unlawful, so technically it probably isn’t a breach of confidentiality. I think there are two aspects of confidentiality. In terms of the Gordon Taylor confidentiality to Gordon Taylor, that would be a breach of confidentiality if I, for example, had provided information. That is client confidentiality. The confidence in the criminal activity, or covering up the criminal activity-

Q1288 Chair: What The Guardian published was the fact that a settlement had been reached of £700,000. That was the revelation of the settlement.

Mark Lewis: That side is not a breach of confidentiality by The Guardian, but if the only duty of confidence is from George Davies to Gordon Taylor. So, if George Davies had leaked the information, whether me or somebody else at George Davies had leaked the information of that settlement, then that would be a breach of confidence.

Q1289 Chair: Do you agree that the knowledge of the existence of the key documents-the "for Neville" e-mail and the Information Commissioner’s report-was only in the possession of Farrer, News Corp, George Davies and Gordon Taylor?

Mark Lewis: No.

Q1290 Chair: Who else?

Mark Lewis: The police have that information. There were lots of people and lots of information within that article. It is almost like a jigsaw. You can say, well, certain people had that information and certain people did not have that information. Gordon Taylor made a complaint. He has new solicitors, Brabners. They made a complaint about me to the Law Society about the disclosure of that, not based on any evidence. I dealt with that in response to the Law Society, pointing out that there were parts of that information that I could not have possibly have known in The Guardian article. When it came down to it, it was thrown out by the Law Society. It was rejected as a complaint and so on.

One understands why Gordon Taylor might have been concerned, because potentially News of the World could have asked Gordon Taylor-I am sure this is why he has not spoken about it. News of the World could have said to Gordon Taylor, "Right, we want the money back because you breached the confidence". I do not think that News of the World has ever recognised that it paid him that money to cover something up.

Q1291 Chair: So, you did not tell The Guardian any details of the settlement.

Mark Lewis: No, not at all.

Q1292 Chair: You and your firm did not leak the "for Neville" e-mail, or the Information Commissioner documents.

Mark Lewis: No, and in fact the settlement figure only came out in The Guardian a few weeks ago, because Farrer’s-for whatever reason, presumably on instructions-in breach of its duty to Gordon Taylor from the agreement, talked about the settlement of £425,000. Never before had I ever said the figure. I had always said, "It is reported as a £700,000 figure"-or whatever-"including costs", but I had never, ever talked about it.

Q1293 Chair: Did you have any conversation with Nick Davies, or anybody else at The Guardian prior to the publication of the story?

Mark Lewis: No, I had not spoken to Nick Davies. Obviously, I know who he is now, and I have spoken to him since then, but no I hadn’t.

Q1294 Chair: You did not speak to him before 8 July, when the story appeared.

Mark Lewis: Is it 8 or 9 July?

Chair: 8 July 2009.

Mark Lewis: No, I hadn’t had a conversation.

Q1295 Chair: Nor did Charlotte Harris

Mark Lewis: I couldn’t speak for Charlotte Harris, but I would be very surprised if she had had a conversation.

Q1296 Chair: Your position is that nobody at your firm was responsible for The Guardian having that information.

Mark Lewis: No, but one also has to remember-it goes without saying-that before the confidentiality agreement, the court file was open for anybody to go in and inspect and look at. In a sense, if people are asking how Nick Davies got the story, it is probably because he and The Guardian went into the courts and saw that News Group was being sued by Gordon Taylor.

Q1297 Chair: He wouldn’t have got a copy of the "for Neville" e-mail from that.

Mark Lewis: No. I got the copy of the "for Neville" e-mail from the police.

Q1298 Chair: He wouldn’t have done.

Mark Lewis: Got it from the police?

Q1299 Chair: Unless you are suggesting that the police leaked it to The Guardian.

Mark Lewis: The police leaking information to The Guardian has been quite topical recently.

Q1300 Chair: Your guess is that the police leaked it to the Guardian.

Mark Lewis: It could be from anybody.

Q1301 Chair: It couldn’t be from anybody, because very few people had it.

Mark Lewis: Anybody from those five groups.

Q1302 Chair: One assumes it wasn’t News Corp or Farrer’s. You are saying that it wasn’t your firm.

Mark Lewis: I wouldn’t go so far as to make assumptions about anybody. You do not know who speaks or who provides information.

Q1303 Chair: I think you did just suggest a couple of seconds ago that it seems likely that it was the police.

Mark Lewis: The reason for mentioning the police, is that you talked about four, and I said there is a fifth possibility, because that was where the information came out.

Q1304 Chair: And you went on to say that it is not unknown for the police to leak information to The Guardian.

Mark Lewis: It appears that way.

Q1305 Chair: So your guess is that it was police.

Mark Lewis: I try not to guess how things happen.

Q1306 Louise Mensch: Briefly, Mr Lewis, I want to go back to the CD you talked about, where Glen Mulcaire was discussing with a reporter how to hack a phone, and that reporter was from Associated Newspapers. It was not directly relevant to your case against News International. I am interested why that CD was disclosed to you. Why was it sent to you as part of the package, if it was not relevant to your case against News International, but was against another newspaper group?

Mark Lewis: First, you would have to ask the police why they disclosed it to me. The police thought it was relevant to my case.

Q1307 Louise Mensch: They may have been under the impression that he was not working for Associated but was a News International journalist, because he was a contact of Mulcaire.

Mark Lewis: It might have been a simple mistake by the police. What is more interesting is why News International-News Group Newspapers-chose to settle. We had made the application to court to find out who "Rile" was. You would have thought they would have said he is not one of ours.

Q1308 Louise Mensch: Do you infer then, that "Rile"-this journalist-was working double-hatted, the he was also working for News International? Why would they be so concerned about the disclosure that Glen Mulcaire had discussed phone hacking with a journalist at Associated? That’s great; it gets them off the hook. It says, "Look, everybody’s doing it."

Mark Lewis: You would have thought that they would have said, "You have sued the wrong person." It might be that the journalist was writing for them as well.

Q1309 Louise Mensch: Both groups.

Mark Lewis: I do not know, because they chose to settle. I know he now works for News International; he is now at The Times. A lot of people are, including the first investigating police officer, Andrew Hayman, who is now a Times journalist.

Q1310 Louise Mensch: Indeed. You did say that as a result of your investigations as perhaps the "lead guy"-the most known lawyer who deals with phone hacking-that people will come to you, presumably as your clients in America. You said that it is happening at other newspaper groups as well. Have you seen evidence to that effect?

Mark Lewis: Sorry?

Q1311 Louise Mensch: Did you not say earlier that hacking was happening at other groups, too? Have you seen evidence to that effect?

Mark Lewis: No, I said-

Louise Mensch: You were just referring to this particular guy.

Mark Lewis: In respect of the information that the police are obtaining about another inquiry agent in respect of computer hacking, his clients were from other newspapers.

Q1312 Louise Mensch: Okay, that is a separate issue. You said you were bringing cases from American victims of phone hacking against News International. Were you referring in the latter to what they term in America "a class action" lawsuit of hacking victims against News International? Is that what you are bringing forward?

Mark Lewis: No, I think that that is generally used to describe the fact that I am acting for a number of people. Whether or not a class action is pursued or whether it is an action ancillary to the English proceedings, it is pursued for disclosure and depositions, as the American lawyers call it.

Q1313 Louise Mensch: Can you give us a rough number of how many victims you represent in the United States, without disclosing who they are? Can you give us an example of the number of American victims of News International phone hacking?

Mark Lewis: We are on two stages. One, they are not necessarily Americans, but they were in America at the time they were hacked; that is what I said.

Q1314 Louise Mensch: That is what I mean: people who were hacked on American soil to your knowledge.

Mark Lewis: I have two cases and potentially that includes four people.

Louise Mensch: Thank you.

Mark Lewis: The "class action", as you describe it-as the ancillary action, or whatever-is something different, which would effectively cover everybody.

Q1315 Louise Mensch: It would cover everybody. Are you pursuing a class action lawsuit?

Mark Lewis: We are investigating the possibility.

Q1316 Paul Farrelly: I want to return to the central point of our inquiry, which is who may or who did mislead Parliament. I am not sure that the question about who did or did not leak stories to The Guardian is terribly relevant to that inquiry.

My final question regards the testimony of Rebekah Brooks, which, after James and Rupert Murdoch appeared in front of us, was seen almost as a sideshow. Rebekah Brooks told us that, in terms of the targeting of Milly Dowler’s phone, she was the editor and the buck stopped with her, but, on the other hand, News International was very quick to say that she was on holiday at the time that story appeared, and also at the time of the alleged targeting of the young girls involved in the Soham case. Having read, as you must have done, Rebekah Brooks’ testimony to us, is there anything in her testimony that either strikes you as odd or potentially misleading as far as Parliament is concerned?

Mark Lewis: I have to say that I have not actually read it. I was not here at the time she gave evidence. I was next door in the Home Affairs Committee.

Q1317 Paul Farrelly: Will you read it to see if anything strikes you?

Mark Lewis: If there is something within in it that strikes me, I will let you know, but I am not going to try to make up what it might be.

Paul Farrelly: Thank you.

Chair: A very short question from Mrs Mensch.

Q1318 Louise Mensch: Very short. I do apologise. This is a terrible pattern, coming back for a final bite at the cherry.

To follow on from Mr Farrelly’s question, in our session with Messrs Myler and Crone, I referred to changed editions of the News of the World on the Milly Dowler case. I do not know if you are aware of the story that was pulled from additional editions in England and Scotland ascribed to two separate reporters. It literally quoted from her voicemail transcripts. It was then removed and replaced for the main edition, and was discovered by The Wall Street Journal. Were you aware of the original story?

Mark Lewis: From The Wall Street Journal article. I had not seen the earlier editions.

Q1319 Louise Mensch: I wondered if you have had any discussions with News International about who gave the authority to pull that story and replace it.

Mark Lewis: No, I have not had those discussions.

Louise Mensch: Thank you. One final thing. [Interruption.] It is a comment: may I urge you to keep attendance notes on a Dictaphone perhaps, because they might be very useful in future?

Chair: Thank you very much.

Prepared 26th October 2011