News International’s legal chief leaves company

News International legal head Tom Crone, a stalwart of the Fleet Street lawyer set, has left the company, the Associated Press has reported.

It comes as the news group, which owned now-defunct tabloid News of the World (NoW), faces accusations that its journalists paid private investigators to hack into the phones of crime victims.

Crone, who has been with news International for 26 years, was group manager for all News International legal, with NoW, The Sun,The Times andSunday Times falling under his remit.

In 2009 Crone was summoned to a parliamentary select committee to answer questions about the phone hacking allegations.

At that meeting he told MPs: “I tasked myself with finding out what exactly had happened; what was known, who knew what other documents there might be.

“At no stage during their investigation or our investigation did any evidence arise that the problem of accessing by our reporters, or complicity of accessing by our reporters, went beyond the Goodman/Mulcaire situation.”

A spokesperson for News International said there “no official line yet” on Crone’s departure.