Matrix and DLA Piper seal costs victory for Coulson at CoA

Matrix Chambers and DLA Piper partner Jo Rickards have scored a victory in the Court of Appeal (CoA) for former News of the World (NoW) editor Andy Coulson, ordering the defunct tabloid’s publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN) to pay his legal costs.

Andy Coulson
Andy Coulson

Rickards instructed Matrix silks Tom Linden QC and James Laddie QC to lead the appeal for Coulson. Allen & Overy employment head Mark Mansell instructed 11KBW’s Christopher Jeans QC for NGN (2 December 2011).

Reversing the first instance ruling given by Mr Justice Supperstone last December (21 December 2011), Lord Justice Laws, Lord Justice Sullivan and Lord Justice McCombe allowed the appeal.

According to the CoA judgment, in August 2011 News International group chief executive Tom Mockridge stated that the group would pay Coulson’s legal fees in relation to the Leveson Inquiry and Select Committee investigations into phone hacking at NoW. However, it continued, the group would not pay costs for the defence of, or appearance in, any criminal proceedings or other proceedings relating to alleged conduct outside the scope of the terms set out in Coulson’s contract of employment.

Last week, Coulson was charged with criminal conspiracy over illegal payments to officials as part of the ongoing ‘Operation Elveden’ investigation into phone-hacking activity at the tabloid (20 November 2012).

NGN said it would not pay Coulson’s criminal costs because they were incurred as a result of his own actions.

Linden argued for Coulson that NGN was contractually obliged to pay the criminal costs. The phrase “any administrative, regulatory, judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings” in the contract, he stated, was employed to demonstrate the width of the indemnity envisaged.

Responding, Jeans said the clause was not designed to give Coulson an indemnity in respect of costs incurred in defending accusations of unlawful acts beyond the lawful activities of any editor of a newspaper.

Giving the substantive judgment, McCombe LJ said the clause covered Coulson’s costs and expenses for criminal defence in the Operation Elveden investigation.

The legal line-up:

Matrix Chambers’ Thomas Linden QC and Matrix Chambers’ James Laddie QC instructed by DLA Piper for Coulson.

11KBW’s Christopher Jeans QC and Devereux Chambers’ Nicholas Randall instructed by Allen & Overy for News Group Newspapers.