Farrers defends News of the World against George Galloway claim

Farrer & Co is defending News of the World publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN) in an action brought by former MP George Galloway, who claims his phone was hacked by the paper.

Galloway, who is being represented by Farooq Bajwa & Co name partner Farooq Bajwa, has launched an action in the High Court and is seeking damages in excess of £300,000 from NGN after claiming that his voicemail was hacked and messages illegally intercepted by News of the World journalists between February and August 2006.

Farrer & Co declined to say who at the firm is representing NGN, although the group has a close relationship with partner Benjamin Beabey.

As well as NGN, Galloway is suing private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, for what he claims amounts to a gross invasion of his privacy and the privacy of those who left him phone messages.

Mulcaire has admitted to having listened to the messages of publicist Max Clifford, Professional Footballers Association chief executive Gordon Taylor, MP Simon Hughes and model Elle Macpherson.

Galloway, wants injunctions banning NGN from intercepting his voicemail and from using information taken from previous messages. He also wants an inquiry into damages.

In February 2007 News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and Mulcaire were jailed for intercepting royal aides’ phone messages.

The paper stated that Goodman was the only reporter there involved in phone tapping, but the writ issued by Galloway’s solicitors states: “Mr Goodman’s acquisition of confidential personal information from a private investigator was not an isolated incident for News of the World journalists, contrary to the repeated assertions from NGN.”

Similar claims brought against NGN for phone hacking, by Gordon Taylor and Max Clifford, are believed to have resulted in payouts of more than £300,000, with Galloway’s claim form alleging that Taylor was paid around £700,000 by the paper.

Galloway stepped down before this year’s May elections after serving one term as Respect MP for Bethnal Green.

The News of the World has issued a statement saying: “We can confirm Mr Galloway has issued proceedings against NGN in connection with alleged voicemail interception by Mr Glenn Mulcaire. The News of the World has absolutely no knowledge or evidence that Mr Galloway’s voicemail was accessed. We cannot comment further until we receive clarification from the Metropolitan Police on this matter.”