A&O: ‘We were not acting for Gordon Brown’

Allen & Overy (A&O) has issued a denial that it has ever worked for Gordon Brown or held personal files containing information on the former Prime Minister, following the latest development in the phone hacking saga.

Allen & Overy (A&O) has issued a denial that it has ever worked for Gordon Brown or held personal files containing information on the former Prime Minister, following the latest development in the phone hacking saga.

The firm’s response comes after it emerged that Brown was targeted by journalists who accessed his voicemail to obtain information from his bank account, and information concerning his family’s medical records.

A&O was wrongly named in the press as an adviser to Gordon Brown. However, the firm was targeted by someone acting on behalf of The Sunday Times, who called looking for information on how much Brown paid for a flat he bought from Robert Maxwell’s administrators.

The Guardian yesterday (12 July) published a recording that appears to capture two calls made to A&O secretaries by Barry Beardall, who was working on behalf of the Sunday Times.

In the calls Beardall pretends to be an accountant from the “Dealson group of companies” in order to find out how much Gordon Brown paid for the flat he bought from Robert Maxwell-run company AGB Research in 1992.

The Sunday Times then published a front-page story about how the then Chancellor had bought the flat at a “knock down price”.

A&O was, at the time, acting for Arthur Andersen, as administrators to Robert Maxwell’s private companies, and the flat was one of the assets sold.

A spokesperson for A&O confirmed that the firm was acting for Arthur Andersen at the time, adding: “If genuine, the recording appears to show that 13 years ago one of our former employees may have been the victim of a deception in which the valuation of a property may have been disclosed. We do not, however, hold any personal legal files for Mr Gordon Brown, as he has never been a client of the firm.”

Allen & Overy, along with Herbert Smith and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, is advising News Corp – parent company of The Sunday Times – on its bid for BSkyB (TheLawyer.com, 11 July).

To listen to the recording follow this link.