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Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) litigation partner Graham Shear has become embroiled in the News of the World (NoW) phone-hacking scandal, lodging a breach of privacy claim against the defunct paper’s publishers.
Shear was contacted by officers in Operation Weeting – the task force established to deal with the phone-hacking enquiry – at the beginning of this year and was informed that his name appeared in documents belonging to Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who was jailed in 2007 for hacking phones belonging to members of the royal family.
As part of his practice as a commercial litigator, Shear has acted for a range of actors, pop stars, sports stars and politicians on defamation and invasion of privacy actions.
He is now acting for footballer Ashley Cole in a phone-hacking claim against the NoW.
“In around 2008, following the Mulcaire hearings, it became clear that the police had seized a lot of data, so I wrote to the information commissioner and the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police asking if any of my clients had been hacked, and I also put my name on the list because it had been suggested to me that I may have been hacked too” said Shear.
“At the time, I received a negative response from the information commissioner and police commissioner, but then this year I received call asking if Operation Weeting officers could come and see me. They then told me my name appeared on the documents and the inference was that I’d been hacked.”
Shear has instructed fellow BLP litigator Joby Davies to advise him on his claim against NoW publisher News International, with Matrix Chambers’ Hugh Tomlinson QC and David Sherborne of 5RB also acting.
“This is about newspapers’ systematic attitude to obtaining information that they’re not entitled to,” said Shear. “I still believe we need a strong and independent press but it needs to be responsible and accountable. And what we’re seeing now is a sign that things got out of tune.”