Met Police settles phone-hacking lawyer’s libel claim for £200k

Phone-hacking lawyer Mark Lewis has secured a £200,000 libel settlement from the Metropolitan Police after the force effectively accused him of exaggerating the scale of the News of theWorld (NoW) scandal.

Mark Lewis
Mark Lewis

Taylor Hampton partner Lewis asked colleague Daniel Taylor to represent him in the dispute and the firm instructed Ely Chambers silk Ronald Thwaites QC.

The Met’s deputy director of legal services Guy Morgan instructed Weightmans’ police team head and partner Martin Forshaw. He instructed 5RB’s Adrienne Page QC and Jacob Dean.

The case almost made it to its trial date of 2 July, but at the High Court this week it was revealed that the parties had settled and the Met has agreed to pay Lewis £30,000 in damages and his £176,000 legal costs.

After Lewis gave evidence to the Media Select Committee in 2009 that there were actually 6,000 phone-hacking victims – contradicting the NoW’s ‘one rogue reporter’ line – he felt that he was being made to look unreliable by claims made against him.

Press Complaints Commission (PCC) chairman Lady Buscombe gave a speech saying that former Met Assistant Commissioner John Yates had passed her reliable evidence that Lewis was incorrect.

He sued Buscombe, the PCC and the Met on the grounds that he had effectively been accused of lying to Parliament.

Following the settlement, Lewis said: “The Metropolitan Police have spent about £250,000 unsuccessfully defending my claim which could have been avoided if there had been a proper investigation into the activities in 2006 rather than one where only [journalist] Clive Goodman and [private investigator] Glenn Mulcaire were prosecuted.”

A spokesman for the Met said: “The Metropolitan Police Service has not admitted liability in this matter but is rightly mindful of the cost of legal proceedings to the public purse, so we’re pleased that a potentially expensive libel trial has been avoided.”