Grabiner’s £3k-an-hour fee adds to £53m News Corp bill

One Essex Court silk Tony Grabiner QC’s £3,000 hourly rate has helped push the cost of the phone-hacking investigation by News Corporation’s Management and Standards Committee (MSC) to £53m.

Grabiner was drafted in by the media giant last July to chair the MSC, which was set up by News Corp to investigate the scandal (25 July 2011).

Reporting to executive vice-president and News Corp board director Joel Klein, Grabiner was instructed to lead the committee that trawled through 300 milliom emails, expenses and payments at News International publications.

Accounts filed by NI Group Ltd show that the £53.2m running costs of the MSC were built up “primarily by legal and professional fees”.

Lord Grabiner QC
Lord Grabiner QC

Initially the company had turned to Olswang for advice on drawing up a code of practice in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal (5 July 2011).

The firm replaced Farrer & Co as the go-to lawyers for the beleaguered publishing group only to be replaced by Linklaters, which was originally instructed to advise the MSC with partner John Turnbull leading the team (21 July 2011).

It is not known when the decision was taken to replace Olswang on the outstanding phone-hacking claims, but Linklaters partner Christa Band is understood to be leading settlement talks in ongoing claims with 11 South Square’s Michael Silverleaf QC instructed (15 March 2012).

The MSC probe has been controversial, with the investigation covering The Times and The Sunday Times as well as The Sun. News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch said this month that the MSC had completed its review of the publications, but continues to liaise with the police and the Leveson inquiry.