I held this back during the hacking trial for obvious reasons, but am publishing this now. Since Ian Edmondson has pleaded guilty to phone hacking, and the CPS has decided ‘no further action’ against Tom Crone, I can also unredact their names: IE were the initials next to SK in the first transcript: the second is transcript of a conversation between Julian Pike and Tom Crone.
The email release from the CPS of a legal note from Julian Pike, from Farrer’s and Co, briefing Rebekah Brooks and Colin Myler about the state of play in the civil phone hacking cases in January 2010, has caused me to revisit some of the other evidence of Julian Pike, both to the Leveson Inquiry and a parliamentary Home Affairs select committee, about this crucial phase in the legal timeline
Though Pike is not the subject of any know police inquiry, and any other sensitive names have been redacted, I’m still password protecting this post: any public links to previous Parliamentary or Leveson evidence could be deemed prejudicial
This brief timeline begins a year after the sentencing of Mulcaire and Goodman in January 2007. Colin Myler has taken over from Andy Coulson after his resignation, and Les Hinton leaving his job as CEO of News International to take of the job of Dow Jones publisher in NYC. But Clive Goodman is still pursuing a wrongful dismissal claim. A note Pike made of phone call with Myler on 27 May 2008 was adduced by the Leveson inquiry:
The Guardian reported live Pike’s replies about the note: “this is a reference to the employment claim that Clive Goodman had made”. Asked about the “horrid process” referred to in the same note, Pike explains it that “allegations had been made and the fact that News International had to address them.” Ten days later, on the 6th of June 2008, Pike is in conversation with Mark Lewis, the lawyer acting for the chief executive of the Professional Footballers association, Gordon Taylor, about a claim for £1m in damages and £200k in costs for the hacking of his mobile phone by Mulcaire. Four days later, James Murdoch discusses the claim with Colin Myler according to another legal note.
We then jump forward one a half years to the 20th January 2010 note of the meeting between Pike, Brooks, Myler, Chapman and Frederic Michel revealed in the jury bundles at the hacking trial last week.
The Gordon Taylor settlement has been made but rather than “paying them off + then silence falls” more civil cases are pending, not only from Mark Lewis but also Charlotte Harris who is representing Max Clifford in his phone hacking claim. Pike notes that “Taylor got what he wanted because of the blackmail factor” but warns NI execs that if they settled the Max Clifford case “for vast sums we should expect others coming through.” The memo sets out a deal to pay Clifford by another route.
Further February 2010 correspondence between Julian Pike and Charlotte Lewis deal with the issue of costs in the Max Clifford case. But then, a month later, according to his Leveson evidence, Pike suggested both Charlotte Harris and Mark Lewis should be put under surveillance and a document: “Report on Lewis and Harris investigation, May 2010″ explained to senior execs the solicitors should be stopped:
“This was driven by the view that Lewis and Harris were deeply untrustworthy and the potential cost savings….. anticipated had not materialised in Clifford. News Group News was advised to instruct specialist counsel on whether steps could be taken to prevent them from acting…. On 5 May 2010 we were instructed by [REDACTED NI EXEC] to instruct private investigators to look into … [REDACTED] … and investigations firm Tectrix, which had been used on a number of previous occasions by this firm, were instructed to carry out electronic searches.”
The Leveson evidence of private investigator Derek Webb suggests he was one of the Private Investigators instructed by NOTW to surveil Lewis and Harris but this is done and dusted by April. There are more inquiries made in May. Pike was questioned by Robert Jay QC about the motives for this surveillance. Some internal evidence, added to Mark Lewis’ was adduced of the thinking at NGN.
JAY: I should ask you, therefore, about the supplemental witness statements of Mr Lewis and what appears at the back of that statement, which is at the back of your tab 2. You’ll see there, I hope, the document which is headed, “Report 3”. Are you with me,Mr Pike?
PIKE. I am, yes.
JAY. Could you help us, please, with the authorship of this report?
PIKE. I can’t. The first time I saw this document was yesterday afternoon when it was given to me by the Inquiry.
JAY. Thank you. Can I ask you, please, about page 5 of the report on the internal numbering of it, under the heading “News of the World strategy”. Maybe to put it in context, forgive me, Mr Pike, if we could go back to the key points on the first page: “The motivation of and association between the key civil lawyers opposing News International is becoming clear. Specifically, the main protagonists are politically motivated with a number being strong Labour party supporters, their cases helping promote their professional advancement. The News of the World is planning to use these tensions and motivations as a way to force compromise and settlement”
Q424 Chair: Thank you. Mr Pike, in your evidence to the Leveson inquiry-is that coming up later? It is not-you instructed a private investigator to look into the private life of Mark Lewis. Is that right?
Julian Pike: No. You need to be clear about the two different exercises that were carried out by our side.
Q425 Chair: Yes. How were you involved in this?
Julian Pike: I gave advice to News Group that some surveillance should be carried out, in relation to both Mr Lewis and Ms Harris. That actual surveillance was carried out by somebody who the News of the World chose to instruct. I had no direct dealings with them at all.
Q426 Chair: You advised News International that Mark Lewis and-
Julian Pike: Ms Harris, who has been before you.
Chair: Ms Harris, one of our witnesses?
Julian Pike: That is right.
Chair: Should be the subject of surveillance?
Julian Pike: That is right. Q427
Chair: For that you used private investigators?
Julian Pike: No, I didn’t use private investigators. I instructed one particular agency to do one particular job, which was to look at some public open documents. News of the World used an agent, who I had no knowledge of whatsoever, to carry out the surveillance, which I think is where it went wrong.
Q428 Chair: Is that normal, that a firm of your reputation would say to clients that two solicitors-they are both lawyers, aren’t they?-
Julian Pike: That is right.
Chair: -should be the subject of surveillance. Is that normal?
Julian Pike: I totally agree it is very unusual, and I have certainly not had cause to do it before and I hope I don’t have cause to do it again. In these particular circumstances there was justification for doing it, and I would frankly do it again tomorrow if I had the same circumstances.
Q429 Mr Winnick: Pursuing that, Mr Pike, why should the two be the subject of investigations by your firm? One can understand the News of the World, without justifying it; far from it. But, as the Chair said, a firm that I think is used by the Royal Family, certainly has a high status, a high profile, and legitimately so, why should two lawyers be the subject of such surveillance?
Julian Pike: I can’t go into the complete detail of this. In fact, I would love to do it.
Chair: No, please, not today.
Julian Pike: But not today. We would be here for quite some time, I have to say.
Chair: We just want the principle behind it.
Julian Pike: The principle is that over a number of months we had some very serious concerns about breaches of confidentiality. As a result of those concerns, we thought it appropriate to do what we did. I have no regret about doing that. I totally accept it is highly unusual but, in these particular circumstances, it was entirely appropriate.
Chair: Can I just say to colleagues, we have other witnesses who are waiting, including the Minister. So can we make the questions very brief? Q430
Mr Clappison: You mentioned a moment ago about looking at documents that are publicly available, but you also said that you instructed them for surveillance. Yes?
Julian Pike: That is right, yes.