SRA probes solicitors’ handling of Hackgate

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has launched a formal investigation into the role played by solicitors in the News International phone-hacking scandal.

SRA chief executive Antony Townsend said in a statement issued today: “On the basis of our preliminary review of the material in the public domain, we’ve decided to instigate a formal investigation. The first step in this investigation is to obtain the evidence necessary to ensure a thorough investigation, using the powers we have under the Solicitors Act 1974. We’ve set that in hand today. Further decisions will depend upon the review of that evidence and any further inquiries we need to make.

“We’ll pursue our investigation vigorously and thoroughly, but emphasise that our inquiries are at an early stage, and that no conclusions have been reached about whether there may have been any impropriety by any solicitor,” Townsend said.

A spokesperson confirmed that “any solicitor” involved in the News of the Worldhacking scandal could be investigated by the SRA.

A number of different firms have become embroiled in the scandal, including Harbottle & Lewis which advised News International on phone hacking in 2007.