Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed appellate judge Lord Justice Leveson to head the public inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed News International.
The news comes on the same day that News International’s legal head Tom Crone has parted company with the Rupert Murdoch-owned business (13 July 2011).
While the scope of the public inquiry is yet to be laid out by the Prime Minister, it is clear that Leveson J will have the power to call on witnesses within Murdoch’s News Corp and force them to give evidence under oath.
The judge is expected to give some initial findings within the next year, but the probe could last for years given the enormity of the scandal.
Yesterday, Scotland Yard revealed that it had contacted just 170 of the 3,870 alleged phone-hacking victims.
Claimant media lawyers have rounded on the news organisation, with Taylor Hampton solicitor Mark Lewis leading the charge. Lewis is instructed by the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler to represent them over claims that News International publication News of the World had paid investigators to hack into her phone.
Traditionally, News International turned to Farrer & Co partner Julian Pike for advice.