Former NoW lawyer advised on hacking as early as 2004

Former News International legal head Tom Crone has told the Leveson Inquiry that he gave the newspaper group legal advice over phone-hacking as far back as 2004.

Speaking at the inquiry yesterday (13 Decemeber), Crone said that News of the World (NoW) executives had hoped that the issue would “go away” and that he had warned that the official line that phone-hacking was down to one rogue-reporter was “erroneous from the outset”.

When counsel to the inquiry, 39 Essex Street’s Robert Jay QC, asked whether he had advised News International about phone-hacking, Crone said he had done so “several times” after the arrests of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and former royal editor Clive Goodman in 2006 .

However, he was reluctant to expand further on the revelation for fear of encroaching on legal privilege.

He went on to say that emails sent by the paper to two women involved in the Max Mosley sex scandal came close to “blackmail”.

Farrer & Co partner Julian Pike yesterday also gave evidence over allegedly having placed Mishcon de Reya media lawyer Charlotte Harris and Taylor Hampton lawyer Mark Lewis on surveillance (8 November 2011).

Pike said that he believed it was a “perfectly legitimate exercise” and that, faced with what he believed was a serious breach of confidentiality, he wanted to “put together a jigsaw” of what was going on.

“If it was done properly it would not be an intrusive exercise at all,” he said.

Asked whether he believed the spying was a breach of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, respect for private and family life, Pike said that it was not an absolute right.

“If faced with the same circumstances, I would do it again as a perfectly legitimate exercise,” he added.

Also speaking at the inquiry was former Harbottle & Lewis partner Lawrence Abramson, who said that internal emails would have shown the publisher in “an unfavourable light”.

In 2007 Harbottle was instructed by Jon Chapman, then director of legal affairs for News International, to assist the company in reviewing emails sent by and to then NoW royal editor Clive Goodman (16 August 2011).